(NewsNation) — A man accused of faking his own death to avoid a rape charge is facing extradition this week and reportedly making claims about the prosecutor trying to bring him back to the United States from Scotland.
Nicholas Alahverdian has a lengthy rap sheet. The man identified by authorities as Alahverdian, who claims he is a different man, was arrested in December for a 2008 sexual assault allegation in Orem, Utah. According to prosecutors, he invited a woman to whom he owed money to his home, saying he would pay her back but instead brutally raped her.
The registered sex offender is under investigation in four states for sexual assault and kidnapping. He also faces charges for fraudulently obtaining credit cards in his foster father’s name, amassing $200,000 in debt.
Many people in Rhode Island, including reporters, local politicians and members of his own family, believed Alahverdian died in February 2020 from cancer. Someone claiming to be his wife confirmed the reported death and had an obituary published for him. His life was even eulogized at the Rhode Island State House, where he was praised for his work on behalf of children. But it turns out, authorities say, he was alive.
Law enforcement officers say they tracked Alahverdian down in December. They say he was in a Scottish hospital on a ventilator being treated for COVID-19. Scottish investigators and staff at the Glasgow hospital reportedly worked with the Utah County Attorney’s Office to identify Alahverdian based on tattoos and DNA evidence.
While it may seem like the case was nearly closed, they soon learned it was just the beginning.
The man identified by authorities as Alahverdian claims his name is actually Arthur Knight and that the entire ordeal is a big misunderstanding. The man saying he is Knight insists he has never even been to the United States and a woman claiming to be his wife backs up his story.
Still, the man claiming to be Knight has not been able to produce a birth certificate to authorities. His attorney says there is no DNA to support the prosecution’s claims.
Now, Knight is turning the attention to Utah County Prosecutor David Leavitt, reportedly saying the prosecutor has ties to cannibalism and a sex trafficking ring.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the sheriff’s office announced it is investigating a “ritualistic child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking” case that happened in Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties between 1990 and 2010. They asked potential victims to come forward, but did not share many other details.
Leavitt released an investigative report to the Tribune that consisted of decades-old accusations involving 15 people, including Leavitt and his wife.
While appearing Monday on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live,” Leavitt denied allegations that he was a cannibal or murderer. He said he was running for a position on a checks and balances campaign that angered the local sheriff in Utah County.
“We received a tip that the sheriff, in fact, was working with Alahverdian to accuse me of cannibalizing and murdering children in a ritualistic abuse ring,” Leavitt said.
“Quite frankly, Dan, that was all I was going to stand. So I stood and said we need to have the sheriff open his office for an open independent investigation. If the sheriff is truly using the power of his office to try and take out an elected prosecutor, who is his check, then the sheriff needs to resign.”
NewsNation reached out to the sheriff for details and did not receive a response.
Even as Knight fights back, maintains his innocence, and insists police have the wrong guy, Leavitt says they are not backing down from the case. He is confident they have the right guy and in the international collaboration of the investigation.
“You don’t simply extradite someone from a foreign country unless lots of agencies have looked into it and used their limited resources to get someone back. Every governmental agency is short on resources, so when you decide you’re going to go after someone, you have to really be certain that that’s who it is.
“In this case, we had to make ourselves certain, the state bureau of investigation, the state of Utah had to do the same, the United States Department of Justice and the Scottish authorities, so you have four governmental agencies from two countries who have all satisfied themselves that this is the guy,” Leavitt said.
Knight’s extradition hearing is slated for Thursday. It will be up to a Scottish judge whether or not he is extradited to the U.S.