Nicholas Rossi Will Be Extradited—or Will He?

He isn't and she probably isn't (image: BBC News)

Yes, he will. Oh yes, there is no doubt about that. I really don’t know why I phrased it as a question, to be honest. The only real question here is why it has taken so long to get this guy shipped back to the U.S. to face trial, but I suppose the answer is something like “because Scotland is a civilized place in which they give an accused person the benefit of the doubt even when the story they tell is as dumb as this one.”

As you may recall, authorities in the U.S. have been looking for Nicholas Rossi since at least 2008, when he allegedly committed a rape in Utah. His first effort to avoid prosecution was, frankly, remarkably successful. Most fugitives head into the mountains or something and try to keep a low profile. This guy went to Rhode Island and got involved in politics. He used an assumed name, but it’s still kind of amazing that he managed to avoid scrutiny this way for more than a decade. But eventually, his past started to catch up to him, whereupon he faked his own death and fled again.

He was ultimately discovered in a Scottish hospital in December 2021, suffering from COVID-19. While he had checked in under the name “Arthur Knight,” eventually people noticed that he had extremely distinctive tattoos that happened to match the ones known to be on Nicholas Rossi. While he insisted they had the wrong man, his explanation for the identical tattoos was … less than convincing. See “Suspect Claiming Mistaken Identity Says Someone Tattooed Him Without His Knowledge” (Nov. 15, 2022). (He also turned out to have the same fingerprints.)

But, hoping to avoid extradition, Rossi stuck to his “Arthur Knight” claim to an utterly ridiculous extent. After a judge held last November that the human before him was, more likely than not, the aforementioned Nicholas Rossi, things just got weirder. He started to show up for court in unusual outfits, sitting in a wheelchair he didn’t need, and using an oxygen mask (same), all the while insisting he was Irish orphan “Arthur Knight,” not this Rossi person. The continued delay seems to have been due to claims that extradition would violate his civil rights, and while they were planning to send him to Utah, it was still not a very convincing argument.

At long last, on August 2 the court finally rejected Rossi’s arguments and cleared the way for him to be extradited. He had some strong words for the defendant, though not as strong as the guy deserved. This is still not the final determination, because according to the BBC that has to be made by government ministers. While I think everyone would enjoy an extended discussion of the matter in Parliament, I would expect a fairly quick decision.

There are more amusing bits in the BBC video below, including a clip from an interview in which “Arthur Knight” refused to show the reporter his allegedly tattooed forearms, saying he was “too exhausted” to roll up his sleeves.