Friday, September 12, 2014

Attorney Convicted of False Imprisonment for Planting Drugs in School Volunteer's Car

Kent Easter isn't the only attorney who thinks he's above the law, but he takes the concept to a new extreme of pettiness and irrationality.

Attorney Convicted of False Imprisonment for Planting Drugs in School Volunteer's Car
By deceiving police, Kent Easter caused Kelli Peters to be detained and questioned, a prosecutor said. Peters had insulted Easter's son.
By PAUL ANDERSON City News Service
Updated by By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)
September 10, 2014

An Irvine attorney who helped plant drugs in the PT Cruiser of a school volunteer because of a perceived insult to his son was convicted today of false imprisonment by fraud and deceit.

It was the second trial for Kent Easter, who faces up to three years in prison. Another jury last November deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting him, forcing a mistrial. Jurors this time around deliberated about an hour before returning a verdict.

His wife pleaded guilty last year to false imprisonment for her role in the smear attack and was sentenced to 120 days in jail and 100 hours of community service. She was released from jail earlier this year after completing her sentence and had her law license suspended in March.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ordered Easter back to court Thursday afternoon to set a sentencing date. Goethals was inclined to have the defendant handcuffed and sent to jail today, but he asked for more time to make arrangements for the care and custody of his three children, ages 7, 8, and 11.

Goethals questioned why Easter had not made arrangements prior to today, considering the first jury nearly convicted him. Easter, 40, and his attorney argued that his 41-year-old estranged wife was “spiraling down” emotionally.

The couple are in the midst of a divorce. Kent Easter is living in Newport Beach while Jill Easter lives with their children in their Irvine home, according to defense attorney Thomas Bienert Jr....

The jury foreman said the panel was convinced by phone records that showed the defendant’s cell phone was used near the victim’s home the night the drugs were planted in her car. The jury did not believe the defendant’s claim that his wife was using his phone that night, the foreman said.

Prosecutor Christopher Duff said in his closing argument that even if the defendant did not personally plant the marijuana pipe, Vicodin and Percocet in school volunteer Kelli Peters’ car on Feb. 16, 2011, he was still guilty of false imprisonment because it was his call to police that led to her detention and questioning.

“He called police knowing these drugs were planted in the car,” Duff said. “He knew Kelli Peters didn’t put those drugs in the car. His role in the crime is complete when he makes that call to police.”

Easter’s attorney claimed that his client was an unwitting dupe of a conspiratorial, pushy wife, and downplayed the detention of the victim, as Irvine police realized within minutes the volunteer was being set up.

Duff said the Easters’ vendetta against Peters started in February 2010 when Jill Easter picked up her then-5-year-old son after classes at Plaza Vista School in Irvine. It took a few minutes to find the boy, who was a little dirty and crying when he was found but was otherwise OK, Duff said.

Jill Easter grew enraged when Peters said the boy was “slow,” meaning he lagged when it was time to line up with the other children, Duff said. Jill Easter took the comment as an insult to her son’s intelligence, Duff said.

The couple wrote a letter demanding Peters’ dismissal, filed for a restraining order against her, and then tried to file a complaint with police for false imprisonment, Duff said. They also tried to sue Peters, but she was not served with papers and the case was withdrawn.

Kent Easter admitted he called Irvine police and gave them a fake Indian name after he alerted authorities that Peters was seen driving to the school erratically and had pills in her car. Duff alleged that Easter even affected an Indian accent...

See more details HERE.

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