A Twin Cities man used “substantial resourcefulness and cunning” in faking his own greed-inspired death seven years ago along an Eastern European roadside and told investigators by telephone that he’d rather live with his new love interest on an apple farm than risk prison in the United States, according to new details in a U.S. judge’s filing that keeps the defendant in jail awaiting trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine Menendez ruled Wednesday that 54-year-old Igor Vorotinov poses too great a risk of flight and rejected his effort to be freed as his $2 million insurance fraud case continues in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Vorotinov pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday, was returned to jail and awaits trial, preliminarily scheduled to start Jan. 28.
Vorotinov, who last lived in Minnesota in Plymouth, was indicted in February 2015 on one count of mail fraud. Authorities arrested him on Nov. 14 in Moldova, where he was turned over to FBI agents from Minneapolis. He was extradited to the United States three days later.
Menendez revealed in her detention ruling that Igor Vorotinov arranged for the 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. It is still unclear who the corpse belonged to.
The judge also disclosed that after the insurance payout was made and 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 responded with a request for his extradition, and Igor Vorotinov was arrested in December 2017 in Transnistria and turned over to Moldovan authorities.
Not out of chess moves, Vorotinov countered in August by asking the United Nations for asylum and was freed from Moldovan custody pending appeal of the extradition order. Vorotinov seized the opportunity, slipped back into Transnistria and missed three court dates concerning his challenge of the extradition order, claiming he was too ill to attend.
On Nov. 1, Moldovan officials ordered Vorotinov’s extradition back to the United States, and Transnistrian authorities arrested him on Nov. 14. That same week, FBI agents from Minneapolis brought him back to Minnesota.
Rather than meet his legal obligations and return to the United States, Menendez wrote, Vorotinov chose instead “to live on his 300-acre apple farm with his girlfriend or second wife.”
Irina Vorotinov, 51, was sentenced two years ago 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.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482