A onetime Twin Cities man who faked his own death in Eastern Europe for a $2 million life insurance payout has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
Igor Vorotinov, 54, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to mail fraud in connection with the scheme that prompted the payout seven years ago to his former wife.
In exchange for Vorotinov admitting guilt, the U.S. Attorney's Office has agreed to seek prison time of no more than roughly 3½ years, and the defense remains free to argue for a shorter term during sentencing. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison. He remains jailed awaiting the July 29 hearing.
Vorotinov, formerly of Plymouth, was indicted in February 2015. Authorities arrested him on Nov. 14, 2018, in Moldova, where he was turned over to FBI agents from Minneapolis.
Nearly six months later, federal officials have yet to reveal the circumstances leading to his capture.
His ex-wife, Irina, and their adult son, Alkon, both have been convicted for their roles in the plot, and they are under court order to repay the money.
According to court records in Igor Vorotinov's case:
In October 2011, Igor Vorotinov arranged for a stand-in corpse to be dressed in his clothes and planted his identification documents on the unwitting cohort before placing the body along a roadside in the Moldovan village of Cojusna.
Irina Vorotinov immediately went to Moldova, identified the body as her ex-husband's and had the corpse cremated. She returned to the United States with the ashes in an urn and death certificate in hand. The remains were then interred in a vault in Lakewood Cemetery in south Minneapolis.
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. The cremains were removed for examination in June 2015, and they were determined not to be Vorotinov's.
Authorities have yet to address publicly the identification of the stand-in body or whether the person was killed as part of the plot.
After the insurance money started moving among the Vorotinovs, prosecutors spoke by phone in May 2016 with Igor Vorotinov in hopes of persuading him to return. He replied that he'd rather remain with his girlfriend in Transnistria, a thin strip of autonomous land between Moldova and Ukraine.
U.S. officials countered with a request for his extradition, and Igor Vorotinov was arrested in December 2017 in Transnistria and turned over to Moldovan authorities.
In August 2018, Vorotinov asked the United Nations for asylum and was freed from Moldovan custody pending appeal of the extradition order. He seized the opportunity and slipped back into Transnistria. But on Nov. 1, Moldovan officials ordered Vorotinov's extradition back to the United States, and Transnistrian authorities arrested him Nov. 14. That same week, FBI agents from Minneapolis brought him back to Minnesota.
Irina Vorotinov, 52, was sentenced in late 2016 to three-plus years in prison for her role in the scheme.
Alkon Vorotinov, 29, of New Hope, pleaded guilty to concealing a felony and was sentenced to three years' probation and 300 hours of community service.