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Pennsylvania dentist accused of killing wife during 2016 hunting trip in Africa for insurance money

A Pittsburgh-area dentist was accused last year of killing his wife during a hunting trip to Africa in 2016 as part of an alleged scheme to get millions of dollars in insurance payments, CBS station KDKA-TV reports. Dr. Lawrence Rudolph is facing a federal mail fraud charge in the case, and his attorneys told the station Bianca Rudolph's death was a "terrible accident" and the allegations are "outrageous." 

In the months following his wife's death, Lawrence Rudolph received over $4.8 million in payments from life insurance and accidental death policies, according to an FBI agent's affidavit filed last month in federal court. The agent alleges in the affidavit that Rudolph defrauded the insurance companies and used FedEx to send insurance claim documents as part of the alleged scheme.

According to the affidavit, Bianca Rudolph was shot in the chest with a shotgun in the couple's cabin while they were on a hunting trip in a national park in Zambia early in the morning on October 11, 2016.

Lawrence Rudolph told Zambian police he was in the cabin's bathroom when he heard the gunshot and his wife may have tried to pack the gun while it was still loaded, according to the affidavit. Zambian investigators found one round was in the shotgun at the time of the shooting and determined it was an accident.

About 11 hours after the shooting, Rudolph called the U.S. Embassy in Zambia and discussed where he could have his wife's body cremated with a consular section chief, according to the affidavit. The official who said he spoke with Rudolph later inspected Bianca Rudolph's body at a funeral home.

According to the affidavit, the section chief served in the U.S. Marine Corps for approximately two decades and was familiar with firearm injuries. After observing the shotgun wound, he said it didn't have the characteristics of a contact wound and believed the gun was at least 6 feet away from Bianca Rudolph when it was fired.

Rudolph's attorneys told KDKA-TV his dental business was valued at close to $8 million and their client didn't have a financial motive to kill his wife.

"This is an outrageous prosecution against Dr. Larry Rudolph, a man who loved his wife of 34 years and did not kill her," the attorneys said in a statement to the station. "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."

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