Tonya Couch, mother of “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch, was indicted on Thursday morning for money laundering and helping her son escape to Mexico last year.
NBC News reports that a Tarrant County, Texas, grand jury indicted Couch, who’s been charged with hindering apprehension and money laundering, after withdrawing $30,000 and escaping to Mexico with her son last December. According to the indictment, the money was going to be used to keep her son Ethan Couch hidden from authorities, furthering criminal activity.
Mom and son fled after a video of what appears to be Ethan Couch playing beer pong surfaced online in late 2015. Ethan was already on a 10-year probation sentence which prohibited him from driving, using drugs, and consuming alcohol.
After nearly a month on the run, they were caught in Puerto Vallarta on December 31, a resort city in Mexico that’s often visited by Americans for its scenic beauty and laid-back atmosphere. The capture happened after Ethan ordered a pizza to his hotel room and someone recognized him.
Upon capture, Tonya was immediately flown to Los Angeles and then transferred to a flight back to Tarrant County. She was charged with a felony count of hindering the apprehension of a felon. She was released on a $75,000 bond and ordered to wear a monitoring device on her ankle, check in weekly with Tarrant County authorities, refrain from drug use, and stay away from firearms. She lived with a family member while awaiting to hear if she would be indicted.
Ethan Couch won a stay of deportation and remained in a detention center in Mexico until January 26. Three months later, on April 13, a Tarrant County judge sentenced him to four consecutive terms of 180 days in prison. Ethan recently tried to appeal the sentence, but the judge upheld the previous decision.
Ethan was just 16 years old when he crashed his father’s truck into a group of innocent bystanders in the Fort Worth area in 2013. The accident ended up killing four people: Breanna Mitchell, Brian Jennings, Hollie Boyles, and Shelby Boyles. Numerous other people were injured in the incident, after the crash caused a chain reaction with other vehicles.
Teenagers Sergio Molina and Soliman Mohmand were thrown from the back of a pickup truck. Molina suffered a traumatic brain injury which left him disabled for life, unable to walk and talk. Mohmand suffered several cuts, bruises, and broken bones.
During his trial, there was more than enough proof to show that Ethan Couch drank excessively prior to the wreck (his blood alcohol level was three times the normal limit for an adult) and caused the death of four people. Yet, a psychologist testified that the teen suffered from affluenza, a term used to describe someone who grew up privileged without abiding by the same rules as others. A judge ended up giving the “affluenza teen” probation and a stint in rehab, something that did not sit well with the majority of people who knew of the case.
Although it’s not been proven if the person seen in the beer pong video was indeed Ethan Couch, he fled the country only days after it was released online, which, to most people, sealed the realization that he was probably violating his probation. A Twitter user who posted the video, @BlondeSpectre, wrote,
“ya boy ethan couch violating probation. i got more if u want.”
The U.S. Marshals Service entered a warrant for the then-18-year-old in December 2015, after he failed to check into his required monthly probation meeting. Tonya Couch’s indictment stems from helping Ethan Couch evade his probation officer, allegedly in fear that her son would be locked behind bars for years.
[Photo by Getty Images/Pool]