Texas 'affluenza' teen's father found guilty of impersonating officer

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2016 5:29 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The father of the so-called Texas affluenza teen was found guilty on Wednesday by a jury of impersonating a police officer and given probation, prosecutors said.

Fred Couch, 51, was charged with falsely representing himself as a reserve police officer when he was on the scene of a disturbance near Fort Worth, in 2014. He faced up to 180 days in jail, they said.

Prosecutors showed jurors a police dashcam video where Couch told officers on the scene he was a reserve police officer. They argued he did so to feel entitled. He also presented a police search and rescue badge from a Fort Worth suburb, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.

Local police later investigated the claim and found out he was not a reserve officer, the paper said.

Couch's lawyers contended he did nothing wrong and was trying to help the community.

Couch's son Ethan was given probation in juvenile court for killing four people in 2013 when he was 16, a sentence that sparked outrage, with critics contending the family' wealth helped keep him out of prison.

At his trial in juvenile court that year, a psychologist testifying on his behalf said Ethan Couch suffered from "affluenza," an affliction coming from being spoiled by his parents which prevented him from telling right from wrong.

Ethan Couch fled to Mexico with his mother in December 2015 after her appeared to violate the probation deal that kept him out of jail. He was captured, returned to Texas and sentenced to nearly two years in jail under new terns for his case when it was transferred to an adult court.

Fred Couch had been separated from Tonya Couch, his wife and Ethan's mother, when the pair fled to Mexico.

Tonya Couch faces a criminal trial on charges of hindering apprehension and money laundering. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Alistair Bell)