A dentist is accused of killing his wife with a shotgun to claim millions in insurance money.
Federal authorities charged Lawrence Rudolph, the founder of Three Rivers Dental in Pittsburgh, with mail fraud on December 22.
According to the criminal complaint filed in a federal court in Colorado in December, FBI investigators claim Rudolph killed his wife Bianca Rudolph while on a safari and hunting trip to Africa in 2016.
Documents claim he and his wife Bianca frequently went on trips to Africa. The complaint said Rudolph’s wife wanted to kill a leopard, and they happened to have a Remington .375 and browning 12-gauge with them. They were packing up to leave their hunting camp when Bianca was shot in the chest.
The 67-year-old told Zambian investigators he was in the bathroom when he heard the blast and found his wife bleeding on the floor. He suspected the gun had been left loaded from the hunt and went off as his wife was loading it in a case.
Federal investigators allege the man killed his wife and had her cremated in Africa in a scheme to collect millions in life insurance claims tied to her death.
According to the criminal complaint, Lawrence Rudolph allegedly made claims through seven different insurance companies totaling more than $4.8 million in the payout. Investigators say that Dr. Rudolph had his attorney use FedEx to mail claim-related documents to one of the insurance companies.
The complaint also states the earliest life insurance policy to cover his wife was purchased around 1987. The guidelines in which Lawrence Rudolph was the primary beneficiary were updated and adjusted in 2016, the same year his wife died.
The consular chief, who spent 20 years in the marines, took photos of the gunshot wound and estimated the distance between the shotgun’s muzzle. He discovered that Bianca’s chest was between 6.5 and 8 feet apart. Documents said Mr. Rudolph was “livid” at the consular chief’s actions.
A friend of the suspected victim contacted an FBI office in South Africa about two weeks later, asking for her death to be investigated further. The friend said Lawrence had affairs in the past and was having one at the time of his wife’s death.
“This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her,” Rudolph’s attorney told Chanel 11. “Dr. Rudolph looks forward to his trial, where he will demonstrate his innocence.”
Dr. Rudolph’s attorney claims the couple signed a prenuptial agreement, saying he would not lose much during a divorce. They also calm his dental franchise is valued at close to $8 million, saying he had no financial reason to kill his wife.
On Tuesday, his attorneys filed motions to get their client out of a Colorado detention center to Arizona — where he owns a home. They argue that the dentist has medical conditions, and the case against him is circumstantial.
Lisa Stanley, a former employee of Rudolph, said she spotted the news on his arrest on social media.
“There were just some things that happened when I was there that was not normal behavior for someone,” Stanley told CBS Pittsburgh.
The federal mail fraud charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.