A wealthy dentist from Pennsylvania who was convicted of killing his wife while they were on a hunting trip in southern Africa has been ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison and to pay about $15m in financial penalties.
Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph, 68, fatally shot his wife Bianca Rudolph with a shotgun while the couple were on a safari in Zambia in October 2016. He also collected almost $5m from numerous life insurance policies for his wife to help set up a future with his longtime girlfriend – his ex-employee – before a federal jury last year convicted him of murdering a US national in a foreign country as well as mail fraud.
The judge presiding over the case, William Martinez, on Monday handed Rudolph a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and also required him to make restitution on the money he got from the life insurance policies. Martinez additionally imposed a $2m fine and told Rudolph to forfeit more than $8m in other assets gained from the life insurance money.
During Monday’s sentencing, Bianca Rudolph’s brother addressed the court and predicted her killer would eventually “die alone and unmourned”.
“Even Judas would be afraid to be in your company,” Vincent Finizio said to his former brother-in-law, invoking the name of the disciple who betrayed Jesus before his crucifixion.
Rudolph has insisted that Bianca’s death at age 56 was an accident. His lawyers, David Oscar Markus and Margot Moss, said on Monday they were hopeful they could win an appeal in Rudolph’s favor.
“And we’ll be back to get a fair trial and then Larry can walk out of here a free man,” Markus said.
Rudolph had established a successful dental practice near Pittsburgh when he fired a shotgun blast into the heart of his wife of 34 years on her last morning in Zambia, leaving her mortally wounded, according to prosecutors. He then tucked the gun away in its case, claimed she had inadvertently shot herself while packing up from their big-game hunting trip and rushed to have her body cremated.
He successfully pressured local officials to declare her death an accident, clearing the way for the insurance policies to pay out.
Subsequently, he embarked on a lavish retirement with his longtime girlfriend, dental hygienist Lori Milliron. He used the money from Bianca’s life insurance policies to build one home each in Arizona and Pennsylvania, prosecutors showed.
Rudolph also bought a pair of luxury cars – an Aston Martin DB-11 as well as a Bentley Bentayga – that prosecutors said helped illustrate “a culmination of a lifetime spent seeking domination and control over others through wealth and power”.
Eventually, an FBI investigation, which saw agents travel internationally to gather evidence and interview witnesses, led to Rudolph’s arrest and conviction.
Agents and prosecutors in charge of the case also asserted that the dentist accumulated much of his wealth fraudulently, though Rudolph’s legal team disputes the contention. They maintained that he would rip off his dental patients, in essence making them need root canals by not doing fillings as planned or drilling holes in their teeth while they were asleep in his care.
He also purportedly shot his thumb off on purpose during an earlier trip to Zambia to collect millions of dollars in disability insurance, according to investigators.
Milliron, 65, received a 17-year prison sentence in June after being convicted of serving as an accessory to Bianca’s murder and is pursuing an appeal.
The Rudolphs’ two adult children, Julian and AnaBianca Rudolph, have not said much publicly about the case. Neither attended their father’s hearing on Monday.
However, according to the judge himself, Martinez left Larry Rudolph’s financial penalties where they were after a letter from Julian persuaded him that increasing them would punish him and his sister – through whatever they may inherit – more than it would their father.
AnaBianca Rudolph, meanwhile, testified at Milliron’s sentencing.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/aug/22/larry-rudolph-killed-wife-zambia-dentist-sentenced Wealthy US dentist who killed wife for insurance money sentenced to life in prison | US news