On Wednesday afternoon, a Tarrant County jury convicted Fred Couch, father of Ethan Couch, DFW's most prominent affluenza-stricken teenager, of impersonating a police officer. Despite the conviction, he's avoided joining his son in the Tarrant County Jail. Couch received a sentence of a year of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $260 dollar fine.
On July 28, 2014, North Richland Hills police officers ran into Fred Couch as they responded to a disturbance call
. When officers arrived, Couch told them he was a Lakeside, Texas, police officer. Later, as the investigation wrapped up, he again insisted that he was a cop and said he had his "police stuff" in his car.
He even took police to his car, pulled out his wallet and flashed what the officers on the scene said looked like a police badge and a identification card. Police initially allowed Couch to leave the scene of the disturbance, but arrested him two weeks later after digging into his claim that he was a cop.
At his trial this week, Couch's defense team argued that he'd been given the badge because he was a member of the Lakeside volunteer search and rescue team. He'd never represented that he was a police officer, Couch's attorney Reagan Wynn told jurors.
Despite Couch's claims, dashcam footage showed him claiming to be a reserve officer, and the jury took only two hours to convict Couch.
Fred Couch's son, Ethan, remains in Tarrant County jail, serving a nearly two-year sentence for violating his probation. In 2013, he killed four people while driving drunk in Tarrant County. Controversially, his defense team claimed that because of Fred Couch and his wife Tonya Couch's permissive parenting, Ethan Couch suffered from "affluenza," or an inability to recognize the potential consequences of his actions.
Outrage over Couch's defense was stoked further when he was sentenced to probation, rather than prison for his crime, but Couch wound up in jail anyway after fleeing to Mexico with his mother after a video of his playing beer pong showed up on Twitter in late 2015.