Lawrence Rudolph, a wealthy dentist and big game hunter who was convicted of murdering his wife Bianca Rudolph while on a 2016 hunting trip in Africa, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday, Aug. 21.
In addition to the life sentence, U.S. District Judge William Martinez also imposed over an estimated $15 million in financial penalties against Rudolph, who was also convicted of mail fraud for cashing in nearly $5 million in insurance policies for his wife as he began a new life with his longtime girlfriend.
Rudolph Shot His Wife, Then Made it Look Like She Accidentally Shot Herself
Rudolph has claimed throughout the case that his wife's death in the southern African nation of Zambia was an accident.
Prosecutors say Rudolph, who owned a Pittsburgh-area dental franchise, shot his wife of 34 years in the heart with a shotgun on her last morning in Zambia, and then put the gun in its soft case to make it look like she had accidentally shot herself while packing. The couple had been hunting game during their trip.
They also claim the setting, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) from the nearest police station, was the perfect place to try to get away with the crime, where they say he rushed to have his wife cremated and intimidated officials investigating her death.
Rudolph's Motive was to Live a Lavish Life with His Girlfriend
They allege the goal was to live a lavish retirement with his longtime girlfriend, Lori Milliron, with the help of the insurance money. Milliron was sentenced to 17 years in prison in June after being convicted of encouraging the murder.
Investigators in Zambia and for the insurers concluded Bianca Rudolph's death was an accident. The insurance companies, some based in Colorado, then paid out the life insurance, according to the defense in court documents.
Rudolph used the life insurance money to build two homes, one in Arizona and another in Pennsylvania, as well as for two luxury cars, an Aston Martin DB-11 and a Bentley Bentayga.
Rudolph Previously Shot Off His Thumb to Collect Disability Insurance Money
Larry Rudolph was arrested nearly five years after her death following an FBI investigation that sent agents traveling around the world to collect evidence and interview witnesses.
Prosecutors allege Rudolph built his wealth on fraud. In a document laying out the facts of the case, which is disputed by the defense, they say he shot off his thumb during a previous visit to Zambia to collect millions in disability insurance money; they also allege he cheated his dental patients, creating the need for root canals by not doing fillings or drilling holes in their teeth while they were asleep.
"Today points out that no matter how wealthy you are, no matter how prestigious you are, no matter how well connected you are, the long arm of the law will find you and justice will arrive for you," Cole Finegan, the U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said after the sentencing.