Authorities have removed an urn from a mausoleum at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, hoping to prove the allegation that a west metro woman faked her husband’s death to collect $2 million in insurance money as part of a scheme stretching into central Europe.
Indictments filed earlier in the federal case allege that the man, Igor Vorotinov, is actually living in Ukraine and Moldova, and that the couple’s son was in on the ruse.
Irina Vorotinov placed the urn at the Lakewood Memorial Mausoleum in late 2011. However, an FBI application to the court said a forensic inspection of the ashes will prove what federal investigators say they already know: Igor Vorotinov did not die in October 2011 in Moldova, a westerly neighbor to Ukraine, and that Mutual of Omaha did not have to make good on the insurance claim.
The search warrant application was filed in early May, and the urn was seized on May 5 under the watchful eye of an IRS agent. An FBI spokesman in Minneapolis said Tuesday that the case remains under investigation.
Irina Vorotinov and her son Alkon both said Tuesday they were unaware of the urn’s removal. While both referred further questions to their attorneys, Irina Vorotinov answered “of course” when asked if her husband’s remains were in the urn. Messages were left with both attorneys.
The 28,000-square-foot mausoleum sits not far from the cemetery’s entrance on W. 36th Street. It accommodates 3,000 crypts and several rooms with more than 2,400 individual or family compartments, called niches, for cremated remains. The cemetery’s most recent price list says a niche runs from $4,800 to $9,000.
Irina Vorotinov, 48, of Plymouth, and Igor Vorotinov, who was 47 at the time of the death claim, were charged in federal court in February with mail fraud and a related count. She also was charged with money laundering. Their son, Alkon, 25, also of Plymouth, was also charged with helping his mother conceal the plot. They remain free on bond.
Son talks to officials
Early this year, the son agreed to cooperate with federal authorities and said his father has been living in various locations in Moldova and Ukraine under the name “Nikolai Patoka,” the search warrant application read.
According to the case against the Vorotinovs, Igor bought a life insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha in April 2010 and listed Irina and Alkon Vorotinov as beneficiaries.
In October 2011, police in Moldova were notified about 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. At her request, the body was cremated about 130 miles east of the village, in Odessa, Ukraine. 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, authorities said.
Tipster from Moldova
The search warrant application noted that Lakewood personnel remembered the funeral and mentioned that Irina “did not act like a grieving widow.”
Mutual of Omaha sent a $2 million check that was deposited in a bank account. Court documents say the son knew at the time that his father’s death had been a hoax. 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.
In November 2013, customs agents stopped Alkon Vorotinov in Detroit as he returned from Moldova, and digital photos on his computer dated April and May of 2013 showed his father “very much alive” more than 1½ years after his supposed death, a court filing read.