A successful neonatologist charged with trying to hire a hitman off the dark web to kidnap his estranged wife, inject her with heroin, and blackmail her with videos pleaded guilty on Wednesday.
The doctor, Ron Ilg, told a court in Washington State that he was a “broken man” in 2021 when he contacted various websites to “not only injure one of my partners but also kidnap my wife.”
According to prosecutors, Ilg, the former chief medical director of a multistate neonatology management group, first tried to orchestrate an assault on a former colleague who he believed was involved in an internal workplace investigation against him. The messages obtained by the government asked the hitman to deliver a “significant beating” that would “injure both hands significantly or break the hands.” He allegedly wired the service $2,000 in bitcoin as compensation.
Experts who study these websites say there is no evidence they work, and there was no indication that the assault Ilg requested was carried out. But a month later, prosecutors say, he contacted the same website to ask that they abduct his wife, who was in the process of filing for divorce, and convince her to come back to him. And he laid out an explicit plan: The kidnappers were to take her to a secure location, inject her with heroin, teach her to administer the drug, and videotape her doing so as a tool of blackmail. “She is strong for a woman,” he wrote. “And she is stubborn and will need lots of persuasion.”
Confronted with evidence of these messages by a judge Wednesday, Ilg said they were “consistent with the horrific messages that I wrote.” He then pleaded guilty to one count of threats in interstate commerce for each victim—each of which could result in a maximum of five years in jail, a fine of $250,00, or both when he is sentenced Nov. 8. He also agreed to a no-contact order between himself and his two victims.
Ilg’s attorney, Carl Oreskovtich, described his client as a “very high-functioning neonatologist” who had suffered a “really debilitating emotional breakdown” at the time of the messages in question.
“He’s having a hard time realizing he’s the same person who engaged in this type of activity,” Oreskovtich told The Daily Beast after the hearing.
Ilg previously lived a seemingly normal life, marrying and divorcing a local woman with whom he still co-owns a cherry orchard, and later marrying and having a child with an aesthetician 15 years his junior. In 2019, however, complaints about Ilg’s behavior began circulating in his office, leading to an internal investigation and ultimately, his firing. (Ilg sued the company claiming he was retaliated against for reporting dsicrimination and harassment. The case was dismissed in October of last year.)
At the same time, the doctor’s marriage to the aesthetician began falling apart. The woman filed for divorce in June 2020 and sought a temporary restraining order later that year. But Ilg continued to pursue her, at one point violating a no-contact order by approaching her in a parking lot and dropping a lengthy letter begging her to come back to him. In April, British journalists who were investigating hitman websites contacted the wife to alert her that someone who appeared to be her husband was putting a hit out on her.
The wife’s attorneys then contacted the FBI, who arrested Ilg at the Spokane airport on April 11, as he was returning from a vacation in Mexico with his mistress. The mistress later told police he had behaved oddly on the trip, and she suspected he had used a burner phone to access the dark web. She also claimed he physically assaulted her on the trip and afterward forced her to sign a sign a sex-slave contract in blood. (Ilg has claimed the two were in a consensual BDSM relationship).
Ilg admitted to investigators that he had sent messages to the dark web under the screen name “Scar-two-something,” but claimed he meant to put a hit out on himself, as a suicide attempt. After searching his property in Spokane, authorities found a biometric safe containing a slip of paper with the word “Scar215”—the name of the account that sent the dark web messages—and a password for the same account. They also later traced all of the bitcoin transactions used to pay the hitman to a Coinbase wallet in Ilg’s name.
The day after his questioning, Ilg attempted suicide. He was jailed four days later, after recovering in the hospital, and has been incarcerated ever since.
At the plea hearing, prosecutors said Ilg wrote a letter to his mistress while incarcerated, begging her to marry him so that she would not have to testify against him. He also offered to pay for her children’s schooling if she did so, and instructed her to burn the letter after she was done reading it, prosecutors said.
As part of his plea deal, Ilg wrote a letter to the court acknowledging that while he had told his mistress that his criminal defense attorney would help them marry, he did not actually discuss this with the attorney in advance. “That is not something I had agreed to or was arranged or was any part of,” the attorney said in court.