A Spokane-area doctor specializing in the care of newborn children has admitted to trying to hire someone to kidnap his estranged wife and force her into a heroin addiction, all in an apparent effort to get her to drop divorce proceedings.
Ronald Craig Ilg, 55, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to transmitting threats in interstate commerce. According to federal prosecutors, Ilg solicited multiple hitmen on the so-called “dark web” in order to carry out two attacks — one against his wife, and one against a former colleague — and transferring more than $60,000 to do so.
The guilty plea comes weeks after Senior U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen denied Ilg’s request for to exclude images and messages from the dark web from being admitted into evidence at trial, which had been set to start on Sept. 19.
According to court documents, Ilg used the codename “Scar215” and the password “Mufassa$$” in order to solicit someone to carry out disturbing acts of violence against the two women.
“Keep Her Mouth Shut, and Tell No One About the Kidnapping.”
Ilg’s first target, a woman with initials B.L. identified in pleadings as “Victim 1.”
“The target should be given a significant beating that is obvious,” Ilg said in one of the messages. “It should injure both hands significantly or break the hands. I tried to attach a pic but it wouldn’t load.”
Prosecutors say Ilg was eventually able to send a picture of Victim 1 to the hitman, and also provided the woman’s name and home address.
According to court documents, there was some bad blood between Victim 1 and Ilg.
“VICTIM 1 explained that she previously worked for ILG for several years and that he did not like her, possibly because he thought that she had something to do with a complaint that was filed against him,” the criminal complaint says. “VICTIM 1 surmised that ILG may have faulted her for him not obtaining a position at another hospital in the region where she currently works.”
The victim told the FBI that although Ilg had reached out to her in November 2020 to “bury the hatchet,” she did not respond.
The DOJ said that Ilg paid more than $2,000 in Bitcoin to the would-be hitman, to whom he also sent a troubling follow-up message.
“I would like to see evidence that it happened,” Ilg wrote. “If this goes well, I have another, more complicated job [for an] entirely different target with entirely different objectives.”
Ilg’s plans for his second target — his estranged wife J.I., identified in pleadings as “Victim 2” — were indeed significantly more complicated, and the “different objectives” apparently included a plan to force her back into the marriage.
“Ilg solicited purported hitmen to kidnap this victim, have her injected with heroin — all so she would drop divorce proceedings that were pending at the time and return to the failed relationship with Ilg,” the DOJ’s press release said.
According to court documents, Ilg’s instructions were quite specific:
First, lets [sic] ensure the goals are correct. I think you accidently [sic] wrote “not go back” when in fact she MUST go back. This is the absolute goal that she must do for a good bonus.
1. Stop all court proceedings
2. Do go back to her husband weather [sic] she wants to or not
3. Keep her mouth shut, and tell no one about the kidnapping
4. Plant drugs in her home and used needles a day or so after collecting her. So, if people start looking for her while she is detained, they will find them. 5. Inject her with heroin 2 times per day. Teach her to inject herself.
6. Send pics and videos of her injecting herself for bribery later.
Her schedule I have described. I have been told she has kids every other week starting on Friday. She has kids starting this Friday. She works week days from about 8 to 4. When she does NOT have kids she works at the spa on Saturday and then Wednesday after work.
I will use an external escrow. Hidden WiKi, where I first discovered your link, suggests the following: “Bitcoin Escrow – Best escrow service on dark web, low fees, ensures that both vendor and customers are safe by keeping the funds in a secure account until goods or services are delivered” [sic]
Can you please encourage your guy to start now. I have $40k in a wallet right now. I tried to send a pic of it but I cant get this email to select that file. I will start moving the Bitcoin as soon as we agreed on an escrow. But it will take a couple days to get there. I dont [sic] want to loose much more time. If he collects her when she has kids it will be immediately publisized [sic]. If she doesnt [sic] have kids AND she is forced to send texts out to work and any nosey friends[,] she could say she has COVID and is quarantined. So, please have him start now and send me updates and pics as soon as you have her. AND is the Bitcoin Escrow gonna work for us? Thanks[.]
Ilg apparently had even bigger plans: prosecutors say that the defendant set up a “bonus structure” if certain goals were achieved and told the dark web hitmen that he had “other jobs worth quite a bit to accomplish in the near future.”
“Some Strange Stuff Has Happened While We Have Been Here[.]”
The gruesome details of the plot stand in stark contrast to Ilg’s own description of his medical practice; according to a cover letter filed in court, Ilg told a potential employer that he had “three to four years” of experience working as a “general pediatrician,” but that he was “drawn back into a neonatology fellowship because of my interest for intensive care and the neonatal population.”
The defendant’s wife was reportedly alerted to his plan by Ilg’s girlfriend at the time, a woman identified in pleadings as Witness 2. Ilg’s wife had told investigators that she and Ilg married in 2016, and after the birth of their child in May 2018, Ilg “located Witness 1 on the internet and invited her into the relationship with Ilg and Victim 2.”
“As time passed, Victim 2 increasingly became uncomfortable with the relationship,” the criminal complaint against Ilg says. However, although Ilg and his wife were involved in “contentious divorce proceedings,” she and the witness “maintained communication with each other regarding Ilg throughout the relationship.”
In fact, it was this witness who alerted Ilg’s former wife to the plot against her. In April of 2021, while Ilg and his girlfriend — Witness 1 in the case — were on vacation in Mexico, his girlfriend sent a foreboding message to his wife: “Some strange stuff has happened while we have been here[.] I need to talk to you asap [sic] when we get back[.]”
According to prosecutors, that message was sent one day before the kidnapping plot against Ilg’s then-wife was supposed to have taken place. Ilg’s girlfriend had allegedly discovered Ilg’s dark web activities, including his plan to “scare” his estranged wife.
During an airport interview on April 11, upon Ilg and his girlfriend’s return to the U.S., Ilg allegedly told FBI agents that he had gone to the dark web to arrange a “hit” on himself; the following day, Ilg was found unconscious on his kitchen floor, allegedly having taken 46 Xanax pills in an apparent suicide attempt.
According to the complaint, the FBI was first alerted to Ing’s plot by journalists who were investigating murder-for-hire services on the dark web. Court documents indicated that these reporters were from the BBC.
The statutory maximum sentence for transmitting threats in interstate commerce is 10 years behind bars, but pursuant to the plea agreement, Ilg will face between five and eight years.
Nielsen, a George H.W. Bush appointee, set sentencing for Nov. 8.
Attorneys for Ilg did not immediately reply to Law&Crime’s request for comment.
Read the complaint against Ilg, below.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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