Sister of Eric Richins sues Kouri Richins, alleging ‘horrific endgame’ to profit from his death

The lawsuit was filed amid an ongoing criminal case against Kouri Richins, who prosecutors say killed her husband.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband then wrote a children's book about grieving, looks on during a bail hearing Monday, June 12, 2023, in Park City, Utah.

One of the sisters of Eric Richins, who prosecutors say was fatally drugged by his wife last year, filed a lawsuit against her brother’s widow Tuesday, accusing Kouri Richins of enacting a “horrific endgame” to steal money from her husband, orchestrate his death and profit from it.

Kouri Richins, a Kamas mother of three who wrote a book meant to help children cope with grief after her husband’s 2022 death, has been charged in 3rd District Court with one count of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in connection with his apparent killing.

Katie Richins-Benson, who is the personal representative of her brother’s estate and trustee of his living trust, has accused Kouri Richins of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Eric Richins, wrongfully borrowing large amounts of money on his credit cards, fraudulently borrowing $250,000 using a forged power of attorney, stealing tax payments from him, and taking secret insurance policies out on his life.

The lawsuit states that Eric Richins had at least two retirement accounts with about $55,000 between them that should’ve gone to his estate when he died, but that Kouri Richins wrongfully obtained a payout of both accounts.

Katie Richins-Benson also accuses Kouri Richins of stealing other estate property after Eric Richins’ death, including at least $225,000 cash, theater room furniture, an electric motorcycle, a flatbed trailer and several vehicles, off-road vehicles, ATVs and other recreational vehicles. In total, these items are estimated to be worth at least $300,000, the complaint states.

The book Kouri Richins wrote, “Are You With Me?”, is at the center of a battle over Eric Richins’ name, image, identity and likeness, with Katie Richins-Benson accusing Kouri Richins of including them all in the book without the family’s consent.

The complaint alleges that Kouri Richins hasn’t shared any portion of the proceeds from the book with the estate, and that she has kept all the money for herself.

In all, Katie Richins-Benson seeks $5 million in the lawsuit, according to the filing, as well as punitive damages.

Allegations over Eric Richins’ money

Starting in 2016 and perhaps earlier, the lawsuit states, Kouri Richins began having financial troubles. In 2019, she formed K. Richins Realty, and started stealing money from her husband to fund her business and attempt to address her money problems, the complaint alleges.

Kouri Richins began taking money from Eric Richins’ bank accounts and running up debts on his credit cards without his knowledge, the lawsuit states. By February 2022, Kouri Richins and her business owned at least $1,800,000 to hard money lenders, the complaint states.

In September 2020, Eric Richins found out that his wife had taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from his bank accounts, as well as wrongfully borrowed large amounts of money on his credit cards, according to the lawsuit. In total, Kouri Richins is estimated to have taken more than $200,000 from her husband’s bank accounts, and charged more than $30,000 on his credit cards, the complaint states.

Kouri Richins is also accused of borrowing $250,000 using a forged power of attorney. She promised her husband she would repay all these amounts, but instead “overtly lied,” the complaint alleges, “as to persuade Eric not to take action against her.”

Months before Eric Richins’ death, in January 2022, Kouri Richins had logged into her husband’s life insurance policy agreement with his business partner and changed it so she would be the only beneficiary, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the homicide case. But Eric was notified by the insurance company and changed it back.

Between 2014 and 2022, Kouri Richins took out several separate insurance policies on her husband’s life, which would provide over $1,500,000 of coverage if he died, the lawsuit states, noting that Kouri Richins was listed as the sole beneficiary. She’s believed to have taken out these policies without her husband’s knowledge, according to the complaint.

Eric Richins’ identity and alleged wrongful death

The lawsuit accuses Kouri Richins of profiting from her husband’s identity in the advertising, marketing and promotion of her children’s book, which was published in March. None of that money was shared with the estate, the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges that Kouri Richins’ “abused” her husband’s personal identity as she sold and promoted her book on Amazon and in an April segment on KTVX-Channel 4′s “Good Things Utah.” The book has since been removed from Amazon’s website.

“Katie is further entitled to a permanent injunction forever barring Kouri from disseminating, selling or reproducing” the book, the lawsuit states.

Eric Richins died on March 4, 2022, after ingesting five times the lethal limit of illicit fentanyl, prosecutors in the criminal case have said. After his death, Katie Richins-Benson was on the hook for incurred medical expenses, funeral expenses, estate administration and other economic and general damages, the complaint states.

“By knowingly and intentionally poisoning Eric, Kouri demonstrated a reckless indifference toward and absolute disregard of Eric’s rights, safety, health, and well-being,” the complaint states.

Kouri Richins is currently in custody at the Summit County jail, where she is being held without bail. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Sept. 1.