The father of Ethan Couch, the notorious “affluenza teen” sentenced to probation after causing a horrific car wreck that killed four people, has been convicted of an exceedingly dumb but fortunately non-fatal crime. Fred Couch, 51, was convicted of falsely identifying himself as a police officer, a misdemeanor offense.
Couch was charged in September 2014 with impersonating an officer after police responding to a disturbance call in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of North Richland Hills found him at the scene. He identified himself to the police as a reserve officer with the Lakeside Police, another nearby suburb, and told the cops he had his “police stuff” in his truck. Couch then showed the police a badge and something that looked like an ID card. But an actual former Lakeside Police officer who was among the responding officers didn’t recognize Couch, leading to his arrest.
Couch was sentenced Wednesday to 120 days in county jail, probation for one year and court fines of $260. But he won’t serve the jail time unless he violates his probation or is charged with another crime. It’s another lucky break for an exceedingly lucky family: in 2013, a year after Ethan Couch killed all those people, the Daily Mail found that Fred and his then-wife Tanya had been charged at least 20 times with various low level criminal offenses and traffic citations, though every major charge was dismissed. Fred Couch was accused of domestic violence again in February 2016, although he wasn’t charged after his girlfriend declined to cooperate with police and then drove off. She had called 911 to allege that Couch had choked her, but didn’t allow police to photograph her neck when they arrived.
The Couches and their many, many misdeeds and bad parenting decisions were profiled by Michael Mooney in D Magazine in May 2015. And that’s even before Tanya Couch decided to take her son and flee to Mexico, after he was suspected of violating his probation and faced actual jail time. Ethan, now 19, is serving two more years in jail after the two were caught in Puerto Vallarta. Tanya is reportedly working behind a bar at a dive in Azle, Texas. And Fred Couch should be fine provided that he keeps his nose clean, which does seem to be a surprising challenge for this family.