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FBI: Spokane doctor accused of trying to hire kidnapper for wife also trapped girlfriend in underground tank

UPDATED: Thu., April 22, 2021

Ronald Ilg, a former neonatal physician in Spokane, has been ordered to remain in custody pending trial on an attempted kidnapping charge.  (LinkedIn photo)
Ronald Ilg, a former neonatal physician in Spokane, has been ordered to remain in custody pending trial on an attempted kidnapping charge. (LinkedIn photo)

The Spokane neonatal doctor accused in dark web schemes of trying to hire someone to break his former colleague’s hands and kidnap his estranged wife will remain in jail, after a federal judge said Wednesday afternoon he poses too much danger to the community.

At the hearing, more details in the case against Dr. Ronald Craig Ilg emerged.

An FBI agent testified that during the same week agents suspect Ilg paid about $40,000 in bitcoin to have his estranged wife kidnapped, he beat his recent girlfriend and threatened to lock her in an underground structure for hours while the two were on vacation in Mexico, as he had done in Spokane previously.

FBI Special Agent Ryan Butler testified the structure at Ilg’s Spokane home was deep enough to require a ladder to escape.

Judge John T. Rogers called the case “striking and a departure from the norm if there’s anything normal in this business at all.”

Rogers said Ilg “is bright, probably exceptionally so, accomplished, has substantial liquid assets and has demonstrated recently, by all evidence on the table so far, a willingness to be vicious and devious.”

According to Butler’s testimony Wednesday, agents found a sticky note with the username “SCAR215” and a password in Ilg’s safe after reviewing messages on a dark website that advertised services including assaults, murders, kidnapping and arson.

Transactions amounting to about $55,000 through Ilg’s coinbase account also coincided with the bitcoin transactions marked on the dark website, Butler said.

Butler said instructions for Ilg’s wife’s kidnapper included injecting her with heroin twice daily, keeping the needles with her DNA to frame her later and threatening that if she did not meet the kidnapper’s demands, her father would be brutally beaten and her dog slaughtered, Butler said.

According to the arrangement written out on the dark web, the kidnapper would receive separate bonuses for convincing Ilg’s wife to return to him and have sex with him, drop court proceedings in their divorce and keep quiet about the seven-day kidnapping, Butler testified.

The job poster also told the kidnapper via message that there were several more jobs for him if he completed the kidnapping scheme well, Butler said.

Prosecutor Richard Barker pointed to Ilg’s relationship with his recent girlfriend, with whom he vacationed in Mexico during the time of the scheduled kidnapping, as evidence of his pattern of dangerous behavior.

Ilg’s girlfriend told FBI agents Ilg had placed her for several hours in a dark, underground tanklike structure in the yard outside Ilg’s Spokane residence. The FBI later found such structures while conducting a search warrant, Butler said.

Agents also found a master-slave contract Ilg’s girlfriend had described to them, and it was marked with blood, Butler testified.

The woman told agents she had been forced to sign the agreement to be punished by Ilg at his discretion so long as the punishments did not purposefully draw blood, cause internal bleeding or death. Ilg had drawn blood from her finger before pressing it to the contract for a blood fingerprint stamp, Butler said.

She also had recordings on her phone of what sounded like a beating, during which she asked Ilg to stop many times.

“You can hear her in pain. It’s as if she’s having a hard time breathing,” Butler said. The woman told the FBI that Ilg had told her during one beating he could do anything to her because they were in Mexico.

Ilg’s defense attorney, Carl Oreskovich, argued the couple had a consensual and legal, if unusual, bondage relationship. Oreskovich pointed to texts sent by Ilg’s girlfriend expressing her love after his arrest April 11 and said it did not make sense that she would bring her children on the Mexico vacation if she did not trust Ilg.

Ilg’s ex-wife, from a marriage prior to his estranged wife, attended the hearing and offered to house Ilg while he awaits trial. Oreskovich suggested Ilg be admitted to a mental health facility or live alone or with his ex-wife while getting regular therapy sessions.

“Clearly, in my unschooled mind there is a mental illness aspect to this, but my point now is that it is an aspect that either the steps and measures outlined to date have not been effective in addressing or have simply not been aware of the magnitude and dimensions of the mental imbalance,” Rogers said. “Until that is addressed, there are no conditions that will fully protect the community.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated April 22, 2021 to describe the correct location of the underground hole the FBI said it found at Ilg’s Spokane residence.

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