Prosecutors allege that “affluenza” mom Tonya Couch violated the terms of her bond last weekend by consuming alcoholic beverages. They want to re-arrest her and rewrite the conditions for her freedom while she awaits trial on felony charges of money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a felon, her son Ethan, better known as the “affluenza” teen.
On Tuesday, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office in north Texas filed a motion that purports Tonya Couch, 50, “failed to abstain from the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages,” one of the conditions of her bond, on or about June 16.
It requests the revocation of Couch’s bond, remanding her into custody pending trial, the date of which the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported as October 2.
Prosecutors also offered up a backup plan where Couch would remain free on an unspecified higher bond amount and under more “restrictive” terms. They called her current bond conditions “defective and wholly insufficient” as they failed to “adequately force compliance,” asserting Couch’s purported alcoholic violation “poses a serious and immediate threat to the safety of the community.”
In 2013, son Ethan drove drunk, killing four people and injuring others in a Fort Worth suburb. During the subsequent high-profile trial, his attorneys attributed such reckless behavior to a condition called “affluenza,” the inability to distinguish right from wrong because of a coddled, affluent upbringing. The prosecution sought 20 years in prison, but a lenient juvenile judge handed the then 16-year-old a 10 year probation sentence, rehab, and counseling.
However, in December 2015, Tarrant County authorities believed Ethan violated the terms of his probation, which forbade the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Video surfaced on social media that appeared to show him at a party where teens played beer pong. Soon thereafter, he missed a meeting with his probation officer. Then, mother and son vanished. Officials suspected Tonya helped Ethan flee the country. They were found later in Puerto Vallarta, after Mexican authorities traced a call the pair made to order a pizza. Both were deported back to Texas.
Since then, Ethan Couch’s case transferred to the adult court system when he turned 19-years-old in 2016. Breitbart Texas reported presiding Judge Wayne Salvant ordered the teen to spend 720 days in jail, 180 days for each of the four people he killed in the accident. Now 20-years-old, he continues to serve this sentence.
As a result of her purported actions, Tonya Couch faces money laundering charges for withdrawing $30,000 from a personal bank account weeks before she and her son fled the country two years ago. Officials also charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon, for abetting Ethan, which carries a two to 10 year prison sentence.
On January 11, 2016, Salvant, also the judge overseeing Tonya Couch’s case, lowered her $1 million bail to $75,000, Breitbart Texas reported. She then bonded out of jail into the custody of her older son, Ethan’s half-brother, Steven McWilliams. The judge ruled she must wear a GPS ankle monitor and she could only leave home for doctor visits and attorney appointments.
The motion prosecutors filed Tuesday noted when Salvant released Tonya Couch on the reduced bond, the court ordered her to “abstain from the illegal use of controlled substances and cannabinoids or the consumption of alcoholic beverages.”
Last August, Salvant relaxed the conditions of her house arrest so she could find a job to support herself while awaiting trial. She said her ex-husband, Fred, also Ethan’s father, no longer provided financial support to her. Breitbart Texas reported she tended bar but the position was short-lived. A month later, she claimed indigence, asking taxpayers to foot her legal fees. In November, Salvant determined Couch would remain free on bond until her trial.
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