World & Nation

‘This is jail, not a resort,’ Texas sheriff tells mother of ‘affluenza’ teen

The mother of a fugitive teen who used an “affluenza” defense after killing four people in a drunken-driving crash has made an initial appearance in a Texas courtroom on a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon.

The mother of the Texas teenager who successfully used an “affluenza” defense to avoid going to prison in a fatal drunken driving accident appeared in court Friday and was ordered held on $1-million bail.

Authorities contend that Tonya Couch helped her teenage son flee to Mexico to avoid a routine probation hearing that could have sent him to jail.

Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother were arrested last month in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after authorities said that one of them used their personal cellphone to order a pizza for delivery, opening the door to their detection.

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Couch remains behind bars in Mexico, but his mother has been returned to Texas to face charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon. She faces a maximum of 10 years prison.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said that Tonya Couch -- who he referred to as a “woman with means” -- has complained about the conditions in her Texas jail cell.

Anderson said he responded to her complaints by saying “this is jail, not a resort.”

Ethan Couch gained notoriety when a defense witness testified that the then-16-year-old suffered from affluenza -- an inability to tell right from wrong because he was pampered as a child by his wealthy parents.

Prosecutors asked that Couch serve 20 years in prison for the drunken crash that killed four. The judge gave him 10 years on probation instead.

Even if he is ultimately returned to the United States, the maximum punishment he would face is 120 days in jail.

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