Nicholas Alahverdian, con man extraordinaire (First of two posts)


No visible means of support.

For twenty years, Nicholas Alahverdian made a name for himself as an outspoken critic of Rhode Island’s child welfare system. He purportedly died on February 29, 2020, but authorities believe he faked his death to flee an FBI investigation into a $200,000 credit card fraud, and has been living in the UK under the name Arthur Knight.

Then came the rape charge.

There is a lot more to this story than I will be able to tell. There are many more articles than I have listed under “Sources,” below, that are only available to the various newspapers’ subscribers. In two cases, I have copied the Yahoo! version of an article into a blog page on this blog, and link to that instead of the original.

Backstory

Born July 11, 1987, Alahverdian grew up as a ward of the Rhode Island child welfare system, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). He lived in various places at various times, but apparently primarily with his foster parents, Sharon Lane and David Rossi. He would live with Lane and Rossi again as a young adult, in 2015 in Ohio.

Given behavioral problems, in childhood, he was placed in psychiatric care at Butler Hospital and later, Bradley Hospital. He would be hospitalized again at Bradley for two weeks in 2005 (age 18).[e]

In childhood, Alahverdian had two periods of out-of-state placements by DCYF. Specifics of the reasons for those placements at those times have not been reported. “Local media reported that Alahverdian was sent by DCYF to Boys Town in Nebraska and Manatee Palms Youth Services in Florida in 2003.” He claimed to have suffered horrific abuse during both of those placements. According to a DCYF spokesperson, they stopped using Manatee Palms Youth Services in 2005 due to “concerns we had with the way they were treating our kids.”[e]

He aged out of the system in 2005.

Related: You can’t inherit merit.

The 2008 Dayton assault

In 2008, under the name Nicholas Rossi, Alahverdian was enrolled at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. In January of that year, following a lunch date, he sexually assaulted a female classmate in a stairwell.[b] He would be convicted of public indecency and sexual imposition for this incident. The courtroom drama dragged on for six years.

In a motion for a new trial, Alahverdian submitted a MySpace post, purportedly written by the accuser, in which she recanted all her accusations and said she lied under oath “to deflect accusations of cheating and protect her relationship with her boyfriend.” A cyber forensics expert testified in response that there was a 90% likelihood the post was fabricated. He noted, among other things, that the day of the week attributed to the post did not match its calendar date — an error no computer system would have made.[a]

The 2008 Orem, Utah rape

Nationwide, there is a vast backlog of rape kits that have gone unprocessed until years after the event.

The kit for a particular 2008 rape in Orem, Utah was not processed until 2018. The DNA was found to match that of Alahverdian’s 2008 Dayton offense — and also that in unsolved rapes in four other states. Utah County, Utah Attorney David Leavitt issued a sealed warrant for Alahverdian’s arrest in September 2020.[e]

Fake death?

His actual whereabouts from 2016 forward are unclear.

His onetime lawyer, Jeffrey Pine, says he emigrated to Ireland in 2019. “His former foster mother, Sharon Lane, alleged that Alahverdian opened 22 credit cards under her husband’s name, incurring almost $200,000 in debt.”[e]  Pine says Alahverdian was aware of the pertinent FBI investigation before he left.

In January 2020, he prevailed upon several Rhode Island media outlets to report that he had end-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma. “His life as a crusader for children, now about to be cut suhort, was news that needed reporting, he insisted to a [Providence] Journal reporter and editor.”[a]

On March 1, 2020, it was reported to the media that he had died on February 29. An obituary appeared, including this passage: [d]

His last words were “fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun.” At the time of his passing, the room was filled with the sounds of the end credits for the 1997 film “Contact” by composer Alan Silvestri, a film and score which held special meaning for Mr. Alahverdian.

His remains were to be cremated and scattered at sea. There was no funeral, no memorial service, no viewing, no open casket. Other than “Mrs. Alahverdian,” no survivors are named.

The florid language of the obituary is similar enough to that one finds on his personal web page and on his Facebook page.

Who is Arthur Knight?

Arthur Knight appeared in South Bristol, England, in 2019. He met and married one Miranda Knight, and they moved to Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021. He wears bow ties and speaks with a “cut-glass” English accent, and originally had his hair and moustache dyed blonde. He claims to teach at the University of Glasgow.

There is no record of when or where he got his education; no record of anyone who knew him prior to 2019; no childhood friends, etc.

Knight’s principal public project has been a self-styled news platform, Zeusnewsnow.com, which is discussed at length in the second post.

Are they the same?

In December 2021, Knight was being treated for COVID at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

It is beyond me to figure what he could have said or done, that would have made anyone in Glasgow suspect he was anyone other than he claimed, let alone specifically a fugitive from Utah. But that’s what happened.

“On December 13, 2021, [Knight] was arrested … with regard to an alleged rape in Utah in 2008, among other alleged crimes. [He] was identified by observation of his tattoos, which matched police records for [Alahverdian]. Scarring on one arm suggested he had tried to remove one of the tattoos.”[e]

“In mid-February [2022], Sky News set up a video call between the arrested man and former Rhode Island lawmaker Brian Coogan, who knew Alahverdian for over 20 years. The arrested man claimed not to know Coogan, but Coogan identified the man as Alahverdian, describing that Alahverdian had a scar beside his right eye, which a reporter confirmed the arrested man did have. When Coogan further stated that Alahverdian had tattoos on his biceps of a barcode and a bird wing, the arrested man did not show his biceps, and the video call was ended abruptly.”[e]

Aside from photos of the man’s tatoos, fingerprints and DNA have been provided to American authorities. As of July 2022, extradition proceedings are in progress, and in short Knight has very much not been conducting himself like an innocent man.

The facts will out. For now, it is enough for me that the same florid language as appears in Alahverdian’s obituary, also appears on Knight’s zeusnewsnow.com, especially on the “About” page; and also in this recent public statement:

“Mr Leavitt must know that we shall settle any cost, confront any lie, lend a helping hand, admit fault where the fault is ours, and endure any tragedy imposed to maintain a community spirit of success amongst each other as proud Britons.”

“Mr. Leavitt may not give in tomorrow. He may not give in next month. He may never give in …[But] my friends and neighbours of this glorious country of ours, as we celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, let us gather together to support one of our own, I ask you to stand with me and my wife, and we promise from the bottom of our hearts that we will stand with you.”[c]

In the end, …

… the most astonishing thing to me in this whole story, is that there is no report of Alahverdian’s ever having had a job; of his ever having had means to support himself.

Sources

[a]01/27/21 — Tom Mooney, Providence JournalNicholas Alahverdian, DCYF critic, death got attention of state police (providencejournal.com)

[b]01/16/22 — Tom Mooney, Providence JournalOhio woman sexually assaulted by Nicholas Alahverdian comes forward (providencejournal.com)

[c]06/23/22 — Tom Mooney, Providence Journal: Nicholas Alahverdian channels Winston Churchill as he tries to rally England to his defense | The Homeless Blogger

[d]n.d. — Obituary:  Nicholas Alahverdian’s Obituary – Providence, RI, USA | Ever Loved

[e]n.d. — Wikipedia:  Nicholas Alahverdian – Wikipedia

Later developments

07/08/22 — Fingerprints show U.K. resident is American who faked death to avoid charges, Utah prosecutors say (NBC News)

07/14/22 — Nicholas Alahverdian faces second rape charge in Utah

08/15/22 — Utah prosecutors charge Nicholas Alahverdian with third sex assault (providencejournal.com)

09/14/22 — Satanic panic is making a comeback, fueled by QAnon believers and GOP influencers (nbcnews.com).  The question rises of whether Alahverdian’s 151-page treatise was the basis of Sheriff Smith’s “investigation;” whether that “investigation” will continue now that David Leavitt has lost the primary; and also of whether Leavitt’s successor will pursue the charges against Alahverdian.  See also: Utah County Attorney David Leavitt addresses cannibalism allegations, Nicholas Rossi (abc4.com).

11/11/22 —  Man arrested at Scottish hospital last year is U.S. fugitive who faked his own death, court rules (nbcnews.com)

12/23/22 —  Maybe Alahverdian should have run for Congress:  George Santos’s Early Life: Odd Jobs, Bad Debts and Lawsuits – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

12/26/22 — It keeps getting better and better.   Rep.-elect George Santos admits fabricating key details of his bio (nypost.com)

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