‘Affluenza' Dad Found Guilty of Impersonating Police Officer, Gets Probation

Fred Couch, the father of "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch, will serve a year of probation after being found guilty of impersonating a police officer.

Couch, 51, was charged in September 2014 with falsely identifying himself as a reserve Lakeside police officer after he told a North Richland Hills police officer responding to a disturbance that he witnessed, "I have my Lakeside police stuff in the truck." He then displayed a shield-style badge.

In a dashcam video shown to jurors, Couch is seen telling North Richland Hills police officers responding to a disturbance two years ago that he is a reserve officer.

Defense attorney Scott Brown argued to a jury this week that Couch, who carried a badge bearing the words "search and rescue" and "Lakeside police," never asserted authority with it.

Couch was sentenced Wednesday to 120 days in county jail, probated for one year, and a $260 fine plus court costs. The probated sentence means he will only serve the time behind bars if he is found guilty of another charge or if he violates the terms of his probation. Couch faced up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine for the charge.

According to Keith Capo, Couch was armed with a gun when he showed up at his doorstep with a neighbor in August 2014 to discuss a squabble that took place days before.

When officers from the North Richland Hills Police Department arrived, Capo told NBC 5 that he told police he wanted to press charges but that they tried to talk him out of it after they talked with Couch.

Capo believed Couch presented himself as an officer and received special treatment from the police, a claim the North Richland Hills Police Department has denied.

Couch was later charged with impersonating a police officer, a Class B misdemeanor.

Since 2013, the family has been embroiled in one legal drama after another.

Couch's son, Ethan, was initially given probation in a 2013 drunken driving crash that killed four people after defense attorney's invoked the oft-referenced "affluenza" defense -- a claim that Ethan grew up spoiled and with a lack of good parenting.

Ethan is now serving nearly two years in a North Texas jail for the crash after his case was moved from juvenile court to adult court in early 2016. In September, his lawyers argued in a court filing that he should be released over a jurisdictional matter.

Tonya Couch, Ethan's 49-year-old mother and Fred's ex-wife, has been free on bond since being charged with hindering apprehension of a felon and money laundering for fleeing to Mexico with a large amount of cash and her son while he was on probation for the 2013 crash.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us