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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Federal judge delays decision on releasing alleged ‘dark web’ kidnapping suspect on bond

Ilg  (LinkedIn photo)

A federal judge in Spokane said Friday he’d need more time to determine whether a Spokane neonatal doctor accused of using the “dark web” to solicit someone to kidnap and extort his estranged wife should be released on bond before trial.

“Much has happened since we were here before,” U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers said, telling Ronald Ilg, his defense attorneys and prosecutors that he’d take a request for pretrial release with a $250,000 cash bond under advisement.

Ilg has been in custody in the Spokane County Jail since April 16. The former director of the MultiCare Deaconess Hospital neonatal intensive care unit is charged with a single count of attempted kidnapping, a felony that carries a potential 20-year prison sentence.

During Friday’s hearing, Ilg listened in a yellow Spokane County Jail jumpsuit as defense attorney Carl Oreskovich argued prosecutors had publicized “very sensational” and “very prejudicial” details about the case, which was investigated by the FBI after a tip by an international news agency investigating corners of the “dark web.”

“They have been in every newspaper, and on every TV station around,” Oreskovich said.

But they’ve yet to be proven, he argued, and the presumption of Ilg’s innocence should lead to his release.

Investigators questioned Ilg after his return from Mexico with a woman who wasn’t his estranged wife. A search of his house in Orchard Prairie yielded a screen name and apparent password for a user who’d posted messages seeking someone to kidnap his estranged wife, inject her with heroin and threaten to beat her father or strangle her dog if she did not drop court proceedings against him. The user indicated he’d pay for the services using the cyrptocurrency bitcoin.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Richard Barker read those details to Rodgers, indicating the wife and her father were in the courtroom Friday. A woman in the front row sobbed behind a mask as the instructions were read.

“This is not an individual who’s going to follow protection orders,” Barker told Rodgers. The wife had sought her own harassment protection order from Ilg in December after filing for divorce in June 2020, according to court records.

Barker also said there was evidence Ilg had been using anabolic steroids as part of bodybuilding competitions, and a brother suggested their use might explain his aggression.

Witnesses and victims did not speak directly to Rodgers, but Barker read provided statements to the court. The wife described vivid nightmares if Ilg were released.

“I didn’t ask for this, and I sure as hell did not deserve it,” she wrote.

Oreskovich said he empathized with the statements, but they should not be used to keep Ilg in jail, where he’s been for nearly 60 days. He said Ilg has been under lockdown for 22 hours a day on weekdays, and for 24 hours on weekends.

“I submit to you as sensational as this may be, the law presumes release,” Oreskovich said.

Rodgers, after hearing argument, said he wanted to listen once more to recorded phone calls Ilg had made from the jail to others before deciding detention moving forward. He indicated he would not rule Friday, citing the “unusual” case.

“I will tell you that Dr. Ilg will not be in jail forever. He will not be in custody forever,” Rodgers said.

Oreskovich said after the hearing he expected Rodgers to rule carefully.

“I’m not surprised,” Oreskovich said after the hearing, referring to the decision to delay. “It’s complicated.”

Ilg was led in handcuffs out of the courtroom and back to jail Friday afternoon.