Two sides to Lincolnton native facing SC Maserati murder charge

Monday, May 18, 2009 5:30 AM
Last updated 12:25 PM
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GREENVILLE, S.C. — Frederic Bardsley was sitting in his den, waiting for his son to come over and watch an NBA game. John Ludwig was driving his Maserati from a wedding reception to a downtown restaurant.

This April 25, 2009 shows the Maserati driven by John Ludwig after he crashed into the home of Frederic Bardsley, who was killed while watching television in Greenville, S.C.  AP Photo/Tricia Gordon
AP Photo/Tricia Gordon
This April 25, 2009 shows the Maserati driven by John Ludwig after he crashed into the home of Frederic Bardsley, who was killed while watching television in Greenville, S.C.

Their lives collided last month, police say, when Ludwig, a Lincolnton, Ga., native, veered off the road going between 85 and 96 mph and slammed into the back of Bardsley's house so hard his car ended up in the front yard.

Bardsley, 62, died and Ludwig was charged with murder, but only after irate residents picketed a local prosecutor's office.

People who know Ludwig, 36, describe two seemingly different people: He's the college athlete-turned-businessman who helped a home for abused and neglected boys. But he's also the man who, besides the car crash, is charged with breaking into a house and with hitting his wife, at least once in front of their young son.

On Friday, as he appeared by videoconference to ask a judge to release him on bond, he briefly apologized for the crash.

"I take 100 percent responsibility for the accident," he said. "I can't say how sorry I am."

Judge Eugene Griffith is expected to make a decision on bond this week.

Greenville attorney Jimmy Brehm, who represented Ludwig's wife in their ongoing divorce until he says Ludwig threatened him, contends Ludwig is worth tens of millions of dollars and has never had to take responsibility for anything.

"The system has in effect created a monster," Brehm said. "Either nothing happens, or he's been able to pay his way out of it."

Ludwig has 13 speeding convictions since 1999. State law allows officials to revoke someone's license if he or she racks up 10 serious violations within three years, but most of Ludwig's convictions were for lesser offenses.

He's also been charged with criminal domestic violence twice in the past six months and was arrested in August after his wife accused him of making harassing phone calls — as many as 27 in one day.

When he was arrested last week for Bardsley's death, he was out on bond on a burglary charge. Authorities said he kicked in the door of a Greenville home last summer and chased a man who was dating his estranged wife and refused to let him in. Police records show an officer shocked Ludwig with a stun gun after he refused to cooperate.

"It is clear that Mr. Ludwig's character and his respect for authority is absent," prosecutor Bob Ariail said Friday in court. "The public needs to be protected from this individual ... he is a potential menace."

If convicted of murder, Ludwig could face 30 years to life in prison. But the picture prosecutors paint doesn't ring true to people who have worked with him in the community. The Lincolnton, Ga., native came to Greenville in 1990 to attend Furman University, where he was a star football player.

Since graduation, school officials say the business major has continued to give back. In 2006, he was selected as Furman's outstanding young alum and he's also a member of the school's Paladin Club, which raises money for student-athlete scholarships.

In 2000, he founded SDI Networks, a technology consulting firm with eight offices throughout the Southeast, and gave Furman grads jobs, said Tom Triplitt, the school's alumni director.

He also served on the board of a Greenville County group home for abandoned youth.

"He certainly did care about the boys," said Kathy Cook, executive director of the Boys Home of the South.

Little of it matters to the people who cared about Bardsley, whose wife was upstairs in the two-story Greenville home when Ludwig's car slammed into it. Francina Bardsley was unhurt in the April 25 crash.

"I don't want to see anyone have to spend the rest of their life in jail, but at the same time, my God, this is totally senseless," said Tricia Gordon, 36, who lives down the street. "If my kids had been walking down the road, they would have been hit by flying debris."

Ludwig attorney Billy Wilkins has said his client was not driving recklessly and lost control of the sports car after swerving to miss deer. He declined to discuss the case with The Associated Press.

People in the community picketed the prosecutor's office alleging Ludwig was getting preferential treatment when charges weren't brought immediately. They were filed 11 days later. Critics were especially upset that troopers said there was no evidence to do a blood-alcohol test, though Wilkins maintains drugs and alcohol were not a factor.

"They're talking about that they need probable cause," Gordon said. "I'm thinking, 'Wouldn't the car through the house be probable cause?' Sober folks don't drive through a house."

But the people who know Ludwig's charitable side still find the murder charge hard to believe.

"So much of it, it's like they're mad at him because he's been successful and has money. And that's the wrong reason to be mad at somebody," Triplitt says. "It's not a crime to be successful. And certainly he's having a tough time."

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Nero
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Nero 05/18/09 - 06:07 am
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What part of this story is

What part of this story is new? Maybe it should have gone in "Late News" instead of "Latest News".

chatter90210
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chatter90210 05/18/09 - 06:55 am
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It's the Augusta Chronicle

It's the Augusta Chronicle not the AJC! No different than any of our local news sources; outside of Austin Rhodes and WGAC they all report after the fact for the most part.....

patriciathomas
44
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patriciathomas 05/18/09 - 06:57 am
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This article says Ludwig

This article says Ludwig needs to be removed from society. I wonder if it will be removed for violation of policy.

patriciathomas
44
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patriciathomas 05/18/09 - 06:57 am
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chatter, when you report

chatter, when you report "before the fact" , it's called a prediction.

colcamp1
10
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colcamp1 05/18/09 - 08:05 am
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Now Patricia that was funny

Now Patricia that was funny and appropriate. LOL

stillamazed
1493
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stillamazed 05/18/09 - 08:32 am
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What a nut case......

What a nut case......

oldenuff2nobetter
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oldenuff2nobetter 05/18/09 - 09:32 am
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Could Mr. Ludwig have a split

Could Mr. Ludwig have a split personality like Hershel Walker?

disssman
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disssman 05/18/09 - 10:35 am
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In our legal system money

In our legal system money talks and given that, I must assume Mr. Ludwig is the victim in this case. You would think that after 11 times, the police would realize the importance of this man to the community and just leave him alone. And his former wife should just do what he wants her to do, that would settle everything in that area. Why the next thing you know Ms. Bardsley will probably try to sue him for wrongful death. What a pitty everybody can't just forgive and forget.

God save America
62
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God save America 05/18/09 - 01:54 pm
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how many times does this man

how many times does this man get to keep driving after all the speeding tickets and now a death . i don't care how much money he gives away. the man he killed was in his house not bothering anybody when the idoit going 90 mph and went through this house . i think it's time he needs to lose driving privileges and go to jail. if he was poor he would have already been jailed . if you let him get by with this he will kill again or maybe himself. i don't anywhere in sc that the speed limit is 90mph.

God save America
62
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God save America 05/18/09 - 02:08 pm
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dissman you are nuts that

dissman you are nuts that ludwig should be able to drive 90 mph and do anythig he wants to do. ludwig is charged with a burglary charge,he had no right to kill mr bradsley who has given to greenville . not as much as this rich man. you have to ouerlook how much money he has given away and put him in jail.

APiratesLife4Me
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APiratesLife4Me 05/18/09 - 02:17 pm
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This is about as true as it

This is about as true as it gets. I'm not defending John Ludwig because he was wrong and will get punished but..... in general, this paragraph applies.

"So much of it, it's like they're mad at him because he's been successful and has money. And that's the wrong reason to be mad at somebody," Triplitt says. "It's not a crime to be successful. And certainly he's having a tough time."

JackBootedThug
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JackBootedThug 05/18/09 - 04:49 pm
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I thought murder had to be

I thought murder had to be premeditated. This wasn't murder, maybe manslaughter. Maybe this is semantics, but it seems murder is an inappropriate charge. I'm sure the sentencing boundaries are different for the 2.

APiratesLife4Me
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APiratesLife4Me 05/18/09 - 06:45 pm
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Jack, I thought the same

Jack, I thought the same thing. "I" personally beleive they will have no luck convicting him on murder. Involutary manslaughter maybe. Problem is, he did not leave the wedding with killing someone in that house on his mind. It was a result of his actions, not his intent. Involuntary manslaughter at best. There are just too many points to prove on murder.

abouttime
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abouttime 05/18/09 - 07:14 pm
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OMG people, are you insane.

OMG people, are you insane. An innocent man lost his life. No one thinks that it was the drivers intention to run into the house and kill this man, but the fact of the matter is, he did. How is it possible that you think that because he has money, he shouldn't face any charges. Think about the family that have lost their loved one. No matter of money is going to bring this man back and I think that it's insulting to the family to expect them to just forget about it and let this guy get away untouched because he has money. Come on, has it really come to that? If you have money you are free to move around the world, beating your wife, racking up speeding tickets, and taking away a life, intentional or not, and walk away with an "oops, I am sorry" To all of you that feels that he shouldn't receive any punishment, would you have the same remarks if this was someone in your family???

Tujeez1
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Tujeez1 05/18/09 - 09:06 pm
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Well folks, if he had taken a

Well folks, if he had taken a gun and fired it into the air, and that bullet had fell and killed someone, would it be murder then? If a bank robber fired a gun on a crowded street as he made his getaway, not aiming "at" anyone but, never the less killing someone, would it be murder then? Reckless endangerment ends in death in all of these scenarios.....there comes a point where recklessness becomes "pre-meditation" and it's a sad testament to modern society to "have to" decide. If you drive in a reckless manner at excessive speed, you have to expect at some point that someone "could" be killed by your actions. At "that point" you have crossed the line between "accidental" and "pre-meditated".

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 05/18/09 - 09:52 pm
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Mr.Lawyer, people are not mad

Mr.Lawyer, people are not mad at him because he's got money. Money didn't keep his family intact, money can't buy love. People don't begrudge success if you can call him successful~ but since he's all this and that maybe he could prove his character and just how sorry he really is by providing his money to the widow of the man he killed. People are not ignorant of "small town politics". If you have money you can control "probable cause". If he wasn't drunk, why wouldn't he demand a sobriety test to prove his innocence after such a tragic accident? And dodging to miss a deer is the eldest line in the South. He is a habitual law breaker and no better than a common thug. His money controls weak people who would rather pee in their pants than put him in jail where he belongs.

godblessallofus
8
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godblessallofus 05/18/09 - 10:21 pm
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Some people are just so

Some people are just so IGNORANT! Yeah sure he was dodging a deer, that's what they all say...going so fast to go through someone's residence. And NO.... to get a murder charge it don't have to be premeditated azz. If you get into a fight and you pick up something and clog someone with it and they die from their injuries..guess what...you just murdered someone! Get with the program people. Someone in their residence was killed by this idiot and he should get the most harsh punishment he can get, who cares how much money he has. His money can't bring back the man he killed. Try buying life with all his "money" I bet he can't do that! Please buy that innocent man's life back who was sitting waiting on his son, buy his life back MR. RICH MAN!!! You can't..so the heck with you and your money..PUNISH HIM and anyone else who commits something like this.

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