COLUMBIA -- A man who avoided prison in a 2009 car crash that killed a Greenville homeowner could face the loss of his probation as state officials prepared Friday to open an investigation of his arrest on a domestic violence charge.
"It looks like we're moving forward toward a violation," Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services spokesman Pete O'Boyle said.
The agency prepared to investigate a day after 39-year-old John Ludwig, once a wealthy businessman, was arrested and charged with criminal domestic violence. Ludwig's wife told police that her husband had been drinking when he came home Thursday night, asked her to write a check to help pay for their mortgage, then hit her in the back of the head with his hand as she tried to take a bath.
It happened while the couple's 13-month-old child slept in another room, police said. The woman, whose name is not being released, was "hysterical, crying and nearly hyperventilating" when she met with officers at a hotel later that night, according to a report, telling police that Ludwig "often gets angry and frustrated at needing to depend on victim for money."
A judge Friday morning set Ludwig's bond at $15,000. He was no longer listed as an inmate in the Greenville County jail Friday afternoon, and Ludwig's attorney did not return a message seeking comment.
While only a judge can revoke probation, state officials said they would review an incident report of Ludwig's most recent arrest and prepare a report for a judge to review, a process that could take several weeks. Officials said they would also investigate if any other convictions could be used in determining if Ludwig's current probation could be revoked.
Ludwig, a former football player for Furman University and a Greenville entrepreneur, was charged with murder after an April 2009 car crash when his Maserati hurtled through a field at speeds of at least 85 mph, launched off an embankment and plowed into the back Frederic Bardsley's home, killing the 62-year-old homeowner as he sat watching television.
Ludwig suffered minor injuries. His attorneys said he lost control after swerving to miss several deer. Bardsley's wife was also home but was not injured. Ludwig later pleaded guilty instead to reckless homicide. He was sentenced to three years' probation and 500 hours of community service by a judge who said he was impressed by the multimillionaire's charitable works.
The sentence prompted an outcry from local residents clamoring for Ludwig to serve jail time, prompting the state attorney general's office to review the case. Ludwig was eventually forced to sell his information technology company, and a federal judge has ordered a third party to take control of Ludwig's real estate properties; he also ruled that he found evidence of probable fraudulent conduct.
When he was arrested in April 2009, Ludwig was already out on bond for a July 2008 assault charge. Angry after discovering that his estranged wife was having an affair, Ludwig kicked in the door of a Greenville home and chased the man who was dating his wife, his attorney said. Police records show an officer shocked Ludwig with a stun gun after he refused to cooperate.
Ludwig eventually pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to probation in that case. In February 2010, Ludwig was convicted of criminal domestic violence for an assault a year earlier on his then-wife, paying a $1,000 fine to avoid a 30-day maximum jail sentence.
Later that year he surrendered to authorities on a misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault and battery after police said he cursed and spit at a man in a Greenville restaurant.