DENVER - A former Pennsylvania dentist is accused of gunning down his wife during a safari trip in Africa in order to collect $4.8 million in life insurance, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Court documents, obtained by FOX Television Stations, showed Lawrence Rudolph, 67, is charged with foreign murder and mail fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Authorities said Lawrence currently owns Three Rivers Dental in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
A criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado revealed that Lawrence and his wife, Bianca, traveled to Zambia multiple times in 2016. Their final trip was from Sept. 27, 2016, to Oct. 11, 2016.
Investigators said the excursion served as a hunting trip and that the couple had packed "a Remington .375 Rifle and a Browning 12-gauge shotgun."
Court documents showed on Oct. 11, 2016, while the couple was packing to go out on their hunting trip to Kafue National Park, Bianca was shot in the chest with the Browning shotgun.
Lawrence had told local authorities that he was in the bathroom when he heard the shot. He then found his wife lying on the bedroom floor, bleeding from the chest. He told authorities that he tried to resuscitate her but failed. He also explained that the loaded shotgun may have been discharged while his wife was trying to pack the weapon in its case.
FBI agents said Lawrence got in touch with the U.S. Embassy and "turned the conversation to the issue of cremating Bianca’s body and leaving the country." The consular chief told the FBI he thought Lawrence was moving too quickly.
The consular chief, who had experience in firearms, implied to FBI investigators that Lawrence’s story did not add up because "the distance between the muzzle of the shotgun and Bianca’s chest when the shotgun was fired was approximately two to two and a half meters (approximately 6.5 to 8 feet)."
FBI investigators said several months later, Lawrence collected $4.8 million from life insurance policies, one of which was filed in Colorado. FBI agents said he communicated the events to insurance companies through fax or mail.
Upon further investigation, FBI agents received reports that Lawrence had an extramarital affair with a former employee at the dental office.
"This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her," Lawrence’s Miami-based attorney David Oscar Markus said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. "Back in 2016, his wife had a terrible accident during a hunting trip in Zambia. The investigators on the scene concluded it was an accident. Several insurance companies also investigated and agreed. Now, more than five years later, the government is seeking to manufacture a case against this well-respected and law abiding dentist. Dr. Rudolph looks forward to his trial where he will demonstrate his innocence."
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix has ordered Lawrence to be held without bail.
According to local reports, his trial is scheduled for February.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.