'Dangerous' man who faked own death persuaded politician to adopt him

EXCLUSIVE: REVEALED: How US conman arrested in Scotland after faking his own death schmoozed with Mike Pence, tried to smear former Rhode Island representative – who almost adopted him – with fake Wikipedia page and won $70,000 for foster care abuse

  • Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, used his troubled past to charm politicians, including former Rhode Island representative Brian Coogan, who tried to adopt him
  • Coogan, 51, said he backed out of the adoption process in 2000 after being warned that Alahverdian was ‘manipulative’
  • Alahverdian fled the US in 2018 after a fraud charge and DNA linked him to a sex attack. 
  • A fake obituary issued in 2020 claimed he had died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
  • He was admitted to a Glasgow Hospital suffering from Covid last year and his condition became so severe that he was placed on a ventilator 
  • He was arrested on an Interpol notice at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on December 13, where he was intubated after nearly dying of Covid
  • Utah County Attorney in Provo is seeking Alahverdian over an unsolved rape

An intellectually ‘dangerous’ man who faked his own death and moved abroad to escape sex assault and fraud-related charges was so charismatic that as a boy, he nearly convinced a state representative to adopt him. 

Brian Coogan, 51, said he met suspected conman Nicholas Alahverdian – who is awaiting extradition to the U.S. after being nabbed in Scotland for a 2008 Utah rape – in 2000 while representing Rhode Island’s 64th District.

Alahverdian, now 34, was about 14 at the time of their first introduction; he met and charmed many politicians, including Coogan, while working as an errand boy at the state House of Representatives.

He’s now the talk of the nation after it was revealed Wednesday that he faked his own death and claimed to be buried at sea in 2020, as police moved in on him for fraud and sex crime-related charges. Police discovered he was alive and unwell after he was hospitalized in Scotland, put on a ventilator, and nearly died after contracting COVID.

Alahverdian has been described as both vindictive and charming, and can be seen posing in an undated photo with former Vice President Mike Pence. 

Coogan told DailyMail.com that he was initially enamored by the troubled teen – who claimed to be sexually and physically victimized in foster care – and moved to give him a permanent family after Alahverdian ‘begged me to adopt him’ shortly after meeting him in 2000.

The suspected conman Nicholas Alahverdian, who also goes by Nicholas Rossi, is a registered sex offender. He was convicted of two sex-related crimes in 2008. His mugshot from the sex offenders’ registry is pictured 

On the day he was in court to begin adoption proceedings, Coogan said he overheard Alahverdian threatening a social worker, saying: ‘I’ll tell them you abused me, that you hit me.’ 

A judge later talked Coogan and his wife out of it, warning that he was ‘manipulative’ and prone to stealing peoples’ identities.

Coogan said he ultimately discovered Alahverdian’s dark side on his own, as their relationship spanned nearly two decades and they had several falling outs over the years. 

In an astonishing interview with DailyMail.com, Coogan recounted numerous, bizarre interactions with Alahverdian.

Coogan detailed a period when Alahverdian would drive around Rhode Island in a limousine and picked up large restaurant tabs after winning $70,000 in a civil lawsuit for the abuse he allegedly suffered in foster care. The case had been settled in 2013 and until then, Alahverdian was surviving on disability checks. 

He recalled meeting Alahverdian’s wife during their two-year marriage, which spanned 2015 to 2017, when Alahverdian treated the group to a lavish, $1,300 meal at Providence’s most expensive restaurant.

During a conversation with his ex following their divorce, Coogan learned that Alahverdian likely bankrolled the feast with money he stole from his then-wife and parents, whose bank accounts he allegedly drained.

Throughout the years, Coogan also heard tales about how Alahverdian conned a number of other victims, convincing them to give him money and then threatening them and ‘making their lives horrible.’

Brian Coogan (pictured) and his wife nearly adopted Alahverdian in 2000, but a judge convinced him not to

Alahverdian was described as both charming and vindictive by a former acquaintance. He is pictured in this undated photo with former vice president Mike Pence

On one occasion, one of Coogan’s teenage relatives paid Alahverdian $200 to help with a high school assignment, he said. Alahverdian took the money and then tried to shake the family down for more cash by threatening to report the plagiarized assignment to the school principal, Coogan said.

When Coogan ran in his final election campaign – he believes it was 2018 – he said Alahverdian caught wind of it and showed up unsolicited at his house, driving a U-Haul truck packed with his belongings.

He said the truck was filled with expensive campaign gear; Coogan told him he wasn’t seeking help on the campaign, but was eventually goaded into letting Alahverdian help when his elderly parents fell ill.

When his mom and dad died three weeks apart, he dropped out of the race, drawing the ire of Alahverdian.

‘He starts saying, “I moved back here for you. You took advantage of me like everybody else,”‘ Coogan told DailyMail.com. ‘I said, “Whoa, whoa, Nick. I didn’t I didn’t ask you to move back.”‘ 

‘He’s crazy. But he knows how to make you feel bad.’

After their final falling out, Coogan said the alleged conman created a meanspirited, fictitious Wikipedia article about the lawmaker. 

‘Nick is very dangerous with the computer, as you know that the FBI couldn’t catch him,’ Coogan said. 

‘That’s how dangerous this kid is. And he’s very vindictive. When he gets on you, he won’t quit.

‘He’s a very, very, very smart kid. He’s dangerous.’ 

Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, staged his own death in 2018 to escape sex and fraud charges

Alahverdian was arrested on an Interpol notice at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on December 13. He had checked in under the alias Arthur Knight, and was intubated after nearly dying of the virus. 

Alahverdian – who claimed to have died of cancer in February 2020 before being buried at sea – is being sought over a 2008 sexual assault charge in Utah.

He is accused of raping an ex-girlfriend in September 2008, with investigators discovering he’d been reported to the police over similar alleged attacks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Utah and Ohio.  

The faker, who is also known as Nicholas Rossi, was convicted of sexual assault following an ‘encounter’ with another student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

He is suspected of carrying out multiple other sex attacks, and was also accused of a $200,000 fraud after taking out credit cards and loans in his foster mother’s husband’s name in Ohio, it is alleged. 

Alahverdian divorced his second wife in 2017 after less than two years of marriage, and is also said to owe her $52,000. 

Both of his former spouses took out restraining orders against him after their marriage ended. 

Years before the made-for-Hollywood story unfolded, Alahverdian was a Rhode Island political activist who claimed to be victimized by the foster system as child, and who called for changes to state law. 

His tale of a man with a haunted past – who overcame adversity to become a Harvard-educated political scientist – amazed the circles he frequented, with multiple lawmakers taking pity on him. 

Coogan described him as an incredibly charming man who went from running errands at the Rhode Island State House to hobnobbing with the region’s most important politicians. 

Alahverdian traveled in prestigious circles. He’s pictured with East Providence Mayor Bob da Silva

Coogan said Alahverdian was at one point on friendly terms with Rhode Island’s governor and Speaker of the House.

‘He was around the most powerful people in Rhode Island,’ he said. ‘And people don’t understand how he [managed to be] around these powerful people.’ 

Utah County Sheriff’s Office in Provo began the hunt for Alahverdian in 2020 after testing old sexual assault kits, and linking him to a 2008 case which had been closed by a detective without being referred to prosecutors. 

They said DNA led to his capture in Scotland, although it is unclear how staff at the hospital grew suspicious of him.

‘That’s where we began this investigation,’ Utah County District Attorney David Leavitt told DailyMail.com Thursday. ‘And what we found was a trail of victims from Utah to Ohio to Rhode Island, Massachusetts. All have very similar patterns, very similar stories.’

An memorial tribute was posted in February 2020 which claimed Alahverdian had died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that his last words were ‘fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun’

This map shows the trail of havoc and alleged criminal behavior carried out by Nicholas Alahverdian across the US 

Criminal past of Nicholas Alahverdian 

Date unknown: Failure to register as a sex offender in Rhode Island. Accused of separate attack which allegedly saw him kidnap and sexually assault a woman

Date unknown: Accused of similar abduction and sexual assault attempt in Massachusetts    

2008: Convicted of sexual assault in Ohio after an ‘encounter’ with a fellow student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. In September 2008, he allegedly raped an ex-girlfriend in Orem, Utah – the allegation that led to his arrest in December 2021

2017: Fraud in Ohio. Former foster mom in same state accused Alahverdian of $200,000 scam which saw him allegedly take out fake credit cards and loans in her husband’s name 

February 2020: Fakes his own death of lymphoma, with unnamed ‘widow’ claiming Alahverdian had been buried at sea. In July, DNA links him to 2008 sex attack in Orem, Utah – the charge which ultimately led to his discovery in Scotland

December 2021: Arrested at hospital in Glasgow, Scotland, while intubated with COVID on suspicion of Utah sex attack

January 2022: Set to be extradited back to the US, where Alahverdian is almost certain to face further fraud charges for faking his own death in February 2020

The prosecutor said Alahverdian had also fled charges in Ohio, although further details of the allegations against Alahverdian – who claims to be a married dad of two children – have not been shared.   

He also faced fraud and extortion complaints in Utah and Ohio, the Providence-Journal reported. It is unclear if the Ohio fraud charge is linked to the fraudulently obtained loans and credit cards. 

He was convicted in Dayton, Ohio in 2008 of public indecency and sexual imposition; Alahverdian claimed in a 2013 civil lawsuit that the charges stemmed from accusations he masturbated in a hallway of Sinclair Community College.

Alahverdian claimed to have died in Rhode Island, where his reported passing was mourned by state representatives, with his current medical issues meaning cops were finally able to track him down and arrest him. 

The Providence Journal refused to publish an obituary for Alahverdian after a woman claiming to be his third wife failed to provide a death certificate, having claimed that her ‘spouse’ was buried at sea.  

He faced an extradition via video link from his Scottish hospital room last month, and was kept under police guard. He is believed to remain in custody in Scotland awaiting extradition to the US. 

The con saw a gushing obituary to Alahverdian posted online, which his former foster mom suspected the alleged fraudster had written himself, after recognizing his writing style.

There was also a supposedly posthumous YouTube plea, uploaded three weeks after Alahverdian’s death, asking supporters to help the former foster child push for reform of Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

Speaking in a croaky voice towards the end of a self-aggrandizing video touting his achievements, Alahverdian said: ‘I’m Nicholas Alahverdian and I kindly ask with you to join with me in my final fight to reform DCYF.’ 

A local radio station’s news report announcing Alahverdian’s death was also uploaded to the same YouTube channel, in an attempt to underline that Alahverdian really was dead. 

Alahverdian, 34, was arrested on an Interpol notice at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on December 13 after nearly dying of Covid-19


In March 2020, Rhode Island Representative Frank McCabe eulogized him as ‘an accomplished author and child welfare reform advocate’.

‘During his years in the custody of DCYF, he endured significant abuse, depravation of education, neglect, and unhealthy living conditions,’ McCabe said in the House Chamber. ‘The challenges he faced throughout those years could have irrevocably changed his life.

‘Instead, those hardships gave him understanding, passion and drive. More than a survivor, Nicholas endured and ultimately overcame those years in the system,’

A ‘memorial’ Twitter accounted purported to be run by ‘Nick’s widow Louise Alahverdian’ appeared to exist to shut down any claims he was alive.

‘More fake news about Nick is released the more the Rhode Island gov & now the FBI prove they tried to silence him,’ said one tweet. ‘Too late. Difference now is he is deceased & I as his wife and 20+ staff can tell his story. He left 7 manuscripts to publish. RI politics will never be the same.’

There is no evidence online that Louise Alahverdian exists.

The sex offender, previously convicted of two sex attacks in Ohio in 2008, used the name Arthur Knight when detained by Police Scotland officers, but it is believed he went under at least eight different aliases since going on the run in 2018.

Further details on how Knight had ended up in Scotland, and how long he had been there, have yet to emerge.  

Alahverdian, whose also uses the surname Rossi, fled the US after DNA linked him to a sex attack in Ohio amid reports of similar offences across the country.

According to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, he is accused of fraud and sexual assault charges in at least two states.

An obituary was posted in February 2020 which claimed Alahverdian had died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that 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,’ the obituary said

The obituary claimed he passed away with his wife, family, and two children at his beside. 

‘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,’ the obituary said. 

The tribute also described him as ‘one of the most vocal, outspoken, and constructive advocates for reforming Rhode Island’s [Department of Children, Youth and Families] and the child care system.’  

A year after his self-proclaimed ‘death’, reports in the US emerged that police did not believe he was dead and were actively hunting him.

He had previously been questioned by the FBI over a credit card fraud allegation.

But he is now subject to extradition proceedings to Utah after DNA led officials to Scotland where he was found in hospital on a ventilator.

In 2008, Alahverdian was convicted of two sexual assault charges in Ohio and in 2017 his DNA from that case was uploaded to a national database.

Alahverdian grew up in foster care in Rhode Island and ‘made it his mission to fight against his mission to fight against what he described as abuses in the state’s childcare system,’ local radio station WRPO 630 said in reporting his death.

Prosecutors claim that in 2020, his DNA matched samples from a sexual assault said to have taken place in Utah and discovered he was suspect in a number of other incidents across America.

He also had a live warrant out for his arrest after failing to register as a sex offender in Rhode Island.

Alahverdian is now the subject of extradition proceedings instigated by Leavitt, who thanked police worldwide including Police Scotland, for finding the wanted man.

He said: ‘Our office is grateful for the significant interagency collaboration of law enforcement to bring this suspect to justice.’

Alahverdian is now the subject of extradition proceedings instigated by the Utah County

The many aliases of an American fugitive 

Investigators say  the suspected sex predator went by at least eight names, including: 

  • Nicholas Rossi
  • Nicholas Alahverdian
  • Nicholas Alahverdian Rossi
  • Nicholas Edward Rossi
  • Nicholas Alahverdian-Rossi
  • Nick Alan
  • Nicholas Brown
  • Arthur Brown
  • Arthur Knight

An official Utah County Attorney statement added: ‘Investigators also learned that Nicholas Rossi had fled the country to avoid prosecution in Ohio and attempted to lead investigators and state legislators in other states to believe that he was deceased.

‘Through the diligent efforts of SBI Agents, and various investigators in other states and agencies, and in cooperation with the Utah County Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rossi was discovered to be living under an assumed name in Scotland.

‘He has been taken into custody and the Utah County Attorney’s Office is working with federal and international agencies to extradite Mr Rossi back to Utah.’

Rhode Island State Police Major Robert A. Creamer said: ‘He was located in Scotland about a month ago, where he was on a ventilator.’

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: ‘Officers arrested a 34-year-old man in Glasgow on Monday, December 13, in connection with an international arrest warrant. A report was submitted to the procurator fiscal.’

A Crown Office spokeswoman added: ‘I can confirm that Arthur Knight appeared via video link from QEUH on Thursday 23 December 2021 in relation to extradition proceedings for the US.

‘No future dates have yet been fixed.’

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