Billionaire David Koch’s wife repeatedly schemed against the Republican megadonor in the months before he died, forcing his nurses to lock him in a room during a dinner party and using code words to hide real estate and travel plans, the couple’s former bodyguard claims.
The stunning allegations against Julia Koch, 58, were leveled in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed last week by Felicia Racine, a 29-year-old former Koch bodyguard. In the complaint, which was obtained by the New York Daily News, Racine alleged the billionaire’s wife subjected her to gender-based discrimination and forced her to go along with several duplicitous schemes during her employment for the Koch family between January 2018 and April 2020.
“The deception and lies for sure made me fearful of losing my job if I did speak up,” Racine said in an interview with the Daily News on Thursday. “I was always under the impression that they had so much money, if you don’t just bite your tongue and go along with things, they’ll get rid of you.”
Racine, a U.S. Air Force veteran, recalled several times the billionaire’s wife allegedly duped her husband before he died last August—including one 2019 dinner party where Julia Koch locked her husband in his bedroom. The complaint alleges that when Koch, 79, left his bedroom during the party—and said “I love her” while putting his arm around his wife—Julia Koch instructed another staffer and some nurses to take the billionaire away.
“Escort him back to his room now, you have to lock the door, lock him there so he doesn’t interrupt the dinner party again,” she said, according to Racine.
Julia Koch also allegedly instructed staffers to keep quiet about the $40 million Manhattan townhouse she bought in October 2018—while her husband lived in another residence in the same city. The complaint states the billionaire’s wife forced employees to refer to her townhouse as “Hamilton” and told them not to talk about the property in front of the billionaire—and even hide news reports about the purchase.
As part of her scheming, Julia Koch also commissioned a replica of an Amedeo Modigliani painting owned by the family so she could move the original to her secret townhouse without her husband noticing, the papers allege.
In another alleged example of her manipulative behavior, Racine states staffers were instructed to stay hush-hush about a June 2018 family trip to South Africa because Julia Koch didn’t want her husband to attend. She allegedly told Racine to refer to the trip as “Project X.”
The former bodyguard added that staff also kept the 58-year-old’s “boyfriend,” Charles Manger, under wraps from the billionaire industrialist. “Manger typically visited with Julia at several Koch residences, while David Sr. was still alive, including the Southampton residence,” the complaint states, noting that the former bodyguard “provided some security for both Julia and Manger together as a couple.”
Racine claims she was also tricked into delivering Koch’s underage son a fake ID and was asked at least once to “mother” the billionaire’s daughter—including making her bed and making sure the Harvard undergrad left parties on time. These requests, according to the complaint, were never asked of male employees.
Some of Julia Koch’s instructions appeared more sinister to staffers, according to the Daily News. The complaint alleges that Racine heard from some nurses that the billionaire’s wife didn’t want them to use a feeding tube on her husband in the months before his death.
“Felicia believed that Julia had refused David Sr.’s feeding tube because Julia could not deal with David Sr. anymore and did not want his life prolonged further,” the complaint states, noting that the nurses were “uncomfortable” with Julia Koch’s request and stressed that “he’s gonna die.”
The complaint adds that Racine was fired on April 1 under the pretense that her Air Force husband’s recent transfer to California would hinder her ability to effectively protect the Koch family. “As a result of the discriminatory/retaliatory termination, Felicia suffered and continues to suffer damages,” the complaint states.
Lawyers for Koch Industries did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment. Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for Julia Koch, slammed Racine’s allegations in a statement to The Daily Beast, claiming that “Racine has achieved her goal of bringing an employment claim against her employer Matador Security Company, Inc. to the press in hopes of extorting funds from Matador’s client, Julia Koch.”
“While we have yet to see Ms. Racine’s employment discrimination complaint, these stories about the Kochs’ personal lives, which have nothing to do about the legitimacy of any personal employment claims, are nothing more than a gratuitous attempt to smear Julia and David Koch’s reputation,” the spokeswoman said. “We will not dignify these baseless stories with specific responses. Julia is a devoted wife and mother. Together with her late husband, they dedicated their lives’ work to philanthropic causes—giving over $1 billion to the arts and medical science.”