A mother-son plot to cheat an insurance company out of $2 million by faking the father’s death in Eastern Europe has earned mom more than three years in prison and a very big bill to help pay off.
Irina Vorotinov, 49, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Minneapolis to three years and one month in prison for her role in the scheme that included having someone’s ashes other than those of Igor Vorotinov interred at a prominent Minneapolis cemetery. She pleaded guilty in May to mail fraud and a related felony count. A prison term of closer to four years was possible under sentencing guidelines.
The couple’s son, Alkon Vorotinov, 27, of New Hope, pleaded guilty to concealing a felony and was sentenced in September in federal court to three years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.
Now mother and son are both under court order to pay back the insurance company, which made good on the claim that Igor Vorotinov had died in 2011.
Igor Vorotinov, now 52, was charged in federal court in February 2015, and the case against the international fugitive remains open.
In a presentencing court filing ahead of Irina Vorotinov’s sentencing, the prosecution noted that she led her sons to believe their father was dead, later drew one of them into the plot and “went so far as to stage a widely attended sham funeral” at Lakewood Cemetery for her former husband.
In arguing for probation, Irina Vorotinov’s attorneys countered in their own filing that “she has gained nothing and lost everything” and pinned the hatching of the plot on Igor Vorotinov.
The attorneys said she lost her house to foreclosure, while her ex-husband remains in Eastern Europe “with his girlfriend and the cash.” Nearly all of the insurance payout was transferred to him in Europe, the attorneys contended.
As part of the federal investigation, ashes that had been interred in late 2011 at a cemetery mausoleum as Igor Vorotinov’s were removed for examination in June 2015. Authorities determined the remains were not Igor’s.
The son agreed to cooperate with federal authorities early last year and said his father has been living in various locations in Moldova and Ukraine under the name Nikolai Patoka, a search warrant application read.
The first hint of Igor Vorotinov’s staged death came in October 2011, when police in Moldova were alerted to a body in the bushes at the entrance to the village of Cojusna. A passport, hotel cards and phone numbers identified the man as Igor Vorotinov.
Irina Vorotinov traveled to Moldova, went to a morgue with a U.S. Embassy official and identified the body as Igor’s. She returned to Minnesota with the ashes, held a funeral on Nov. 4, 2011, at the mausoleum and filed a death claim on the insurance policy.
Mutual of Omaha sent a $2 million check to Irina Vorotinov, who was living in Maple Grove at the time, and it was deposited in a bank account. Between March 29, 2012, and January 2015, mother and son transferred more than $1.5 million of insurance proceeds to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova.
A tipster in Moldova told an FBI agent in June 2013 that Igor Vorotinov had staged his death and was living in Ukraine under a new identity, authorities said.