A doctor who tried to hire hitmen to kidnap and blackmail his own wife tried to sell his life story, calling it “50 Shades of Gray on Steroids” and claiming it had “a lot of potential for financial gain,” it was revealed. at his sentencing on Tuesday.
Dr. Ron Ilg, a 57-year-old Spokane neonatologist who pleaded guilty to plotting against his wife and a former colleague, was sentenced to eight years in prison during a dramatic three-hour hearing that included charges of consensual slavery and a life sentence reading some of his previously undiscovered letters.
“It was really egregious behavior, it was abhorrent, it was bad,” U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen told Ilg. “The things you asked unknown people on the dark web to do with people you love were just incredible.”
Ilg was arrested in April 2021 on suspicion of attempting to hire the dark web assassins. Prosecutors said he sent messages under the username “Scar215”, instructing the hitmen to give his ex-colleague a “considerable beating” and break her hands. (Ilg had recently been fired from the medical group where they both worked — something his lawyer says sent him into a depressive spiral.)
Weeks later, Ilg sent instructions through another site to kidnap his estranged wife, inject her with heroin, and threaten her until she agrees to drop the divorce proceedings and come to his house. He allegedly offered a bonus if she agreed to be intimate with him and “keep her mouth shut and never tell anyone about the kidnapping.” According to prosecutors, Ilg spent $60,000 in Bitcoin on the plans, which were never implemented.
Ilg pleaded guilty in August to two counts of interstate commerce in exchange for a maximum sentence of five years for each offense. In a sentencing memo, his lawyers demanded 60 months in prison, claiming he was the victim of a mental health crisis and “extremely remorseful for his actions”. Prosecutors asked for no less than 96 months, $30,966 in restitution, a $250,000 fine and 36 months of supervised release.
Prior to his arrest, Ilg was involved in a complex love triangle involving his estranged wife and a mistress he was trying to integrate into their relationship. The mistress, who later became a star witness for the prosecution, told officers that Ilg locked her in a bunker outside his house and forced her to sign a blood slave contract as part of a “dominant-submissive” relationship in which he demanded she participate.
This love triangle was further complicated by Ilg’s prison romance with his former cellmate’s wife. As The Daily Beast previously reported, Ilg met and became engaged to the woman through letters and phone calls while she was incarcerated at the Spokane County Jail. Tuesday’s hearing was interrupted by the reading of recently discovered letters from Ilg to his now former fiancé – prosecutors say he is no longer engaged – showing how he belittles his ex-wife and encourages his fiancée to reach out with his former mistress, who had already issued a protection order against him.
In one letter, Ilg proposed a revenge plan, telling his fiancé to use a private social media account to post false information about an alleged “leak” that revealed his ex-wife was behind the messages to the hitmen. He also wanted her to post a fabrication that his ex-wife slammed the door in the face of a reporter who asked why she wouldn’t allow Ilg a visit with their 8-year-old son. “[My ex-wife] is not an innocent princess,” he wrote in a letter. “It would be an eye opener if this information was somehow posted online where she and everyone else can see it.”
In other letters, Ilg tried to trick his fiancé into a plan to sell the rights to his life story with a spin on the 50 Shades franchise as the pitch. He instructed her to contact publishers and fantasized about building an “empire” together, suggesting they could make a million dollars a year after his release.
“This could be gigantic,” he wrote.
Prosecutors also played a recording of a phone call Ilg posted in November while in jail, in which he told someone his story had “a lot of potential for a book movie deal” and “a lot of potential for financial gain.”
“This defendant wants to make money off what he did,” assistant attorney Richard Barker said at the hearing. “This is not someone who has passed three and a half months … This is someone who continues to pose a threat.”
The judge seemed to agree and sentenced Ilg to the highest possible amount under his plea deal, plus three years’ probation. While acknowledging that Ilg had expressed remorse, Nielsen said his letters and behavior while in prison “make me wonder how serious that feeling of regret really is.”
Ilg’s ex-wife also called for the highest possible sentence in a blistering testimony calling him a “master manipulator and a con artist.” During their marriage, she said, Ilg forced her to submit to his dominant-submissive preferences, leading her to call him “sir” and sign a “ridiculous set of rules” to follow.
She said she woke up several times during the night to find herself bound with ropes or chains, and she claimed that Ilg once grabbed her by the throat and pinned her to the bed while holding their son. If she protested, she said, he would threaten to withdraw her financial support or take her car or phone.
Even after she found a full-time job and began plotting her escape, Ilg parked outside of work or put trackers on her car, she said. To this day, she said, she locks her office door between clients for fear that Ilg will send someone to harm her.
“All I wanted was to get out of a toxic marriage and be left alone,” she said. “If he hadn’t been caught, I don’t know what he would have done to get his way.”
Ilg stumbled through his lengthy statement at the hearing, often struggling to speak through tears. He apologized profusely to the victims and claimed to hold morning devotions in their honor.
He also claimed that he had withdrawn from psychiatric medication when he wrote a letter to his mistress begging her to marry him so that she would not testify against him. At one point, the judge had to interrupt him when he began to describe in detail the screams of other inmates who also retreated to the prison. “I’m not sure we should go into that,” Nielsen said.
Ilg was previously Chief Medical Director of a multi-state neonatology management group and Chief Medical Officer at Maddie’s Place, a charity for children with drug-dependent parents. He was fired from the management group after a staff investigation he said focused on his sexual relationships with women.
At one point during the hearing, his lawyer tried to suggest that Ilg was again “persecuted” for his alternative sexual preferences, this time by the government. Baker later told the judge that the prosecution had “no beef” with Ilg’s sexual proclivities.
“The defendant is not being prosecuted in this case, Your Honor,” he said. “He’s being prosecuted for the things he did.”