PROVIDENCE — A former Rhode Island man who became an advocate for the reform of the state’s child welfare system, only to reportedly die after a cancer battle, was actually fleeing criminal charges in Scotland, authorities say. And he’s alive.
Nicholas Alahverdian’s alleged death from cancer on Feb. 29, 2020 made headlines in Rhode Island. But his arrest nearly two years later — alive, but on a ventilator amid a bout with COVID-19, according to Scottish media reports — is now attracting international notoriety.
The Providence Journal, which first reported he had been found at a hospital in Scotland, had revealed in 2021 that authorities suspected Alahverdian faked his own death. Alahverdian also faced a fraud complaint, and was aware of it, the report said.
He was also being investigated for sexual assault in Utah, authorities now say.
According to the Utah County Attorney’s office, authorities in 2017 submitted a sexual assault kit from a 2008 case and came back with a match to an assault in Ohio in which Alahverdian — under the name Rossi, one of several that he used — was a suspect.
Prosecutors in Utah filed charges. But Alahverdian had fled the country to avoid prosecution in Ohio, the Utah County Attorney’s office said. He then faked his own death, trying to get authorities, local politicians and members of the media to buy his story and honor his legacy fighting for child welfare reform.
“The children and families in the care of the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) for whom he inspired and led through turbulent government transgressions have lost a warrior that fought on the front lines for two decades,” the obituary said.
They had not: Authorities in Scotland arrested him on Dec. 13 at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, reports there said.
The Utah State Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday that its agents “discovered that Nicholas Rossi was a suspect in a number of similar offenses in Utah and throughout the United States after the 2008 incident.”
The names that Alahverdian had used, according to Utah authorities: “Nicholas Rossi, Nicholas Alahverdian, Nicholas Alahverdian Rossi, Nicholas Edward Rossi, Nicholas Alahverdian-Rossi, Nick Alan, Nicholas Brown, Arthur Brown, Arthur Knight.”
Alahverdian said he was a victim of abuse while in the care of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, both in Rhode Island and when he was sent out of state. He served as a state legislative page and aide.
Alahverdian’s obituary reported that he was 32 when he died. He was cremated, the obituary said, and his ashes were spread at sea.
Still alive at 34, he has now been taken into custody, and authorities in Utah say they’re working with federal and international agencies to extradite him back to Utah.