A former Twin Cities man accused of faking his death in order to collect $2 million in life insurance pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Minneapolis, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Igor Vorotinov, 54, formerly of Maple Grove, was convicted of one count of mail fraud by U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz. His sentencing is set for July 29.
Vorotinov took out an insurance policy with Mutual of Omaha in 2010 and named his ex-wife, Irina Vorotinov, as his primary beneficiary.
An auto mechanic and dealer by trade, Vorotinov then left Minnesota for Moldova, a former Soviet republic in Eastern Europe. Seven months later, Irina Vorotinov was notified that a decomposed body of a man believed to be her ex-husband -- in possession of his passport and other ID -- was found near the village of Cojusna.
The woman identified the body as her ex-husband, had him cremated in Moldova, took the urn back to Minnesota, interred him at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis and submitted the death certificate to the insurance company, which sent her a $2 million check in 2012.
Igor Vorotinov changed his name to Nikoly Patoka and moved to Transnistria, a small Russian-controlled region of Moldova, where he lived until 2018.
Irina Vorotinov recruited a third party to open an account at a local branch of U.S. Bank, where she deposited the check. She then had the third party transfer $1.5 million to another account at the same bank in her son's name, Alkon Vorotinov. Between March 2012 and January 2015, more than $1.5 million of the life insurance money was transferred to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova.
In 2013, an unidentified tipster told the FBI about the ruse. When Alkon Vorotinov returned to the U.S. from a trip to Moldova, Customs and Border Protection agents in Detroit stopped him and confiscated his laptop. The laptop contained recent photos of Igor Vorotinov, proving that he was alive. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2018.
In May 2016, Irina Vorotinov pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property. She was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in November 2016.
Alkon Vorotinov pleaded guilty in March 2015 to a felony charge. He received three years of probation and was required to pay restitution for the insurance payout.
The case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.
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