(The Center Square) – A former Spokane neonatalogist will spend eight years in federal prison for hiring men on the dark web to kidnap and assault his estranged wife and two other victims.
Dr. Ronald Ilg, 56, has also been ordered by U.S. Senior District Court Judge William Fremming Nielsen to pay $25,000 in restitution and a $100,000 fine.
“It was unconscionable, the things that you were asking unknown people on the dark web to do to people you love,” Nielsen told Ilg before pronouncing sentence on Tuesday.
The hearing followed Ilg’s admission of guilty last Augut to two counts of threats in interstate commerce. He had been accused of searching the dark web for someone to harm two women in May of 2021.
Ilg, who has been treating newborns with conditions such as breathing disorders and birth defects since 2003, sent dozens of messages online under different usernames.
In those messages, Ilg instructed a man to assault a Spokane area doctor. Using the moniker “Scar215” and password “Mufassa$$,” he wrote that the doctor “should be given a significant beating that is obvious. It should injure both hands significantly or break the hands.”
He paid $2,000 in Bitcoin to the hitman to perform that service and sent along the victim’s address and the link to a photo.
Next on Ilg’s list was his estranged wife. He asked the man to kidnap her and inject her with heroin to make her stop their divorce proceedings and return to their marriage. At that time, Ilg was prevented by a no-contact order from communicating with his wife.
Ilg set up a bonus scheme for successful completion of these tasks. In addition, he promised more work in the future it the plan was implemented correctly, records show.
“So, if all goes well, then we can work together on a few other things also,” he is reported to have said in court documents.
A total of $60,000 was paid to the the men in Bitcoin for what federal prosecutors called “nefarious schemes.”
“This case demonstrates how violent offenders exploit cyberspace and cryptocurrency to further their criminal agendas,” said Vanessa Waldref, who is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, in a written statement after Ilg’s guilty plea.
“The amount of money Mr. Ilg paid to advance his schemes and his efforts to obstruct justice in this case indicate Mr. Ilg would stop at nothing to maintain control over his victims.”
According to Waldref, after the FBI obtained copies of Ilg’s messages, he set about obstructing the investigation. During a voluntary interview with federal agents, Ilg falsely claimed that he paid the hitmen to kill himself.
Ilg then sent a letter to a witness against him begging her to marry him so that he could control whether she testified. He offered to pay her children’s tuition at Gonzaga Preparatory School and St. Aloysius Catholic School in Spokane if she cooperated, according to court documents.
He then directed the witness to destroy evidence by burning his letter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Barker, who prosecuted the case, said Ilg’s victims “demonstrated incredible courage” throughout the ordeal. He said the defendant harassed them with “terrifying” text messages, placed GPS trackers on their cars and even subjected them to domestic abuse.
The victims told Nielsen that Ilg was a manipulative man who’d shown little interest for others, including a biological child with his ex-wife. The judge was told that he was making minimal child support payments despite owning real estate and having a $1 million retirement fund.
Ilg spent 21 months in jail while awaiting adjudication of his case. He was represented by defense attorneys Carl Oreskovich and Andrew Wagley, who argued for a five-year prison sentence and no fine due to the loss of their client’s medical practice.
The Washington Medical Commission initiated disciplinary proceedings against Ilg following his guilty plea to federal crimes. His attorneys told Nielsen that their client will likely lose his medical license and, even if he keeps it, is probably not be allowed to resume practice as a physician.
The judge sided with the prosecution on the length of the prison sentence but pared down the requested fine of $250,000. He directed that Ilg was to spend three years on supervised parole after he was released from prison.
During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors presented letters and recorded phone call in which Ilg suggested selling his story to be made into a film or book.
In one letter, Ilg wrote that his story would be “the next ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ but on steroids.”
Barker told Nielsen that the new information showed that Ilg had not learned from his actions or changed.