Posted Jun 20, 2012 08:08 pm CDT
Updated: Upset that an elementary school volunteer, they felt, had not properly supervised their son, a California couple came up with an unusual way to address the perceived problem, authorities say.
Kent and Jill Easter, both 38 and both graduates of well-known law schools, have been arrested by Irvine police and criminally charged in a felony case with conspiring to have the volunteer—who went on to become the president of the school’s PTA chapter—arrested by planting drugs in her car and accusing her of putting them there herself, according to the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog and a press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
A subsequent L.A. Now article provides additional details about a case that an Irvine police lieutenant describes as highly unusual.
The Easters face charges of false imprisonment, conspiracy to falsely report a crime and conspiracy to procure the false arrest of the elementary-school parent volunteer. Both have been released on $20,000 bail each, KTLA reports.
Kent Easter, a law graduate of the University of California-Los Angeles, is shown in state bar records as working at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, and the law firm’s website lists a shareholder of that name. However, efforts to pull up his profile page now route the user to the law firm’s home page.
Jill Easter is an inactive member of the state bar. She earned her law degree from the University of California-Berkeley.
News coverage, including an article in the Newport Beach-Corona del Mar Patch, describe a scenario in which Kent Easter is accused of driving to the volunteer’s home after midnight and putting a bag of prescription drugs and marijuana behind the driver’s seat of her unlocked car. The couple allegedly spoke to each other by cellphone and texted repeatedly as he drove to and from the volunteer’s home.
Around 1:15 p.m. that same day, Feb. 16, 2011, Kent Easter called police from a Newport Beach hotel in which he was working and, using a false name, told the dispatcher he saw an erratic driver park at the elementary school, named the volunteer and said he’d seen her hide a bag of drugs behind the driver’s seat, authorities say. Again, the couple allegedly called and texted each other, before and afterward.
When Irvine police responded, the woman consented to a search of her car and insisted the drugs weren’t hers. She was detained for two hours as an investigation determined she had been in a classroom at the time when she was said to be hiding drugs in the vehicle. A subsequent consent search of her home showed no sign of drug use. An investigation into whether she had been set up showed that Kent Easter had called police from a hotel business center, as video surveillance allegedly confirmed, the articles say.
In 2010, Kent Easter filed a civil suit on his son’s behalf against a volunteer organization associated with Plaza Vista Elementary School in Irvine. Above the Law provides a link to the Orange County Superior Court complaint (PDF).
Alleging that Jill Easter arrived at the then-first grade child’s school one day to pick him up after a tennis lesson and found that he had been locked outside for nearly 20 minutes, it seeks damages for claimed false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The KTLA article indicates that the suit was later dismissed.
Jill Easter had unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against the volunteer, claiming that the woman was harassing and stalking her and had allegedly told other parents at the Easter boy’s school Jill Easter was “psychotic” and “unstable,” according to the latest L.A. Now post.
“I’ve seen some bizarre stuff,” said Lt. Julia Engen of the Irvine police, when asked by the newspaper whether the case against the Easters is unusual. “I’m not going to say it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a unique situation I’ve never seen before.”
Updated on June 21 to include information from subsequent L.A. Now post.