Mother of 'Affluenza' Teen Ethan Couch Indicted for Allegedly Helping Son Escape to Mexico
Couch is charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon and money laundering
brightcove.createExperiences(); The mother of Texas “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch has been indicted by a grand jury on two charges related to allegations she helped her son escape to Mexico last December, PEOPLE confirms.
Tonya Couch is charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon and money laundering, a spokesperson for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office tells PEOPLE. The money laundering charge stems from allegations that she withdrew $30,000 from a bank account before leaving the United States for Mexico and telling her ex-husband he would never see his son again.
Ethan Couch was 16 when he killed four pedestrians in a drunk driving accident in 2013. He was spared jail time and instead given 10 years probation when his lawyer argued that he suffered from “affluenza” – that his wealthy, indulged upbringing precluded him from knowing right from wrong.
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But prosecutors contend Couch violated his probation, which prohibits him from drinking alcohol, after online footage surfaced last December seemingly showing Couch at a party where drinking games were being played.
Subsequently, Couch and his mother allegedly fled to Mexico for several weeks. Authorities ultimately tracked them to an apartment in Puerto Vallarta after they used a cell phone to call Domino’s Pizza.
In April, a judge sentenced Ethan Couch to 720 days in jail, or nearly two years, after violating his probation. He received a six-month sentence for each of the four people he killed.
(In May, the judge upheld his own ruling.)
Prior to the indictment, Tonya Couch had been charged in January with hindering the apprehension of Ethan and is currently out on $75,000 bond. She remains under electronic surveillance and has weekly check-ins and regular drug testing, NBC reports.
Before she was released on bond, she had voiced some displeasure” with the conditions o the jail, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Terry Grisham told PEOPLE. She allegedly said the jail was “too bright” and that she didn’t like “that people were watching her.”
Said Grisham, “She spoke with the sheriff and he told her, ‘You’re in a jail, not a resort.'”
Couch’s attorneys, Stephanie Patten and Stephen E. Gordon, were not immediately available for comment, but their office said they expect to issue a statement in the near future.
With reporting by CHRIS HARRIS