Irvine, California is known as a quiet and safe residential community. Those of us who work and live here enjoy this about Irvine. In what can only be described as “bizarre,” the LA Times recently reported on developments in a drug plot case involving a Plaza Vista school volunteer and disgruntled Irvine parents who are also local attorneys.
According to reports, a couple, Kent and Jill Easter, apparently had a prolonged feud with a woman, Kelli Peters, who volunteered at the elementary school where the couple’s son was enrolled. Peters is now the school’s PTA President. The first disagreement was related to accusations by the couple that Peters locked the Easters’ son out of the school. This led to a civil lawsuit filed by the couple that was dismissed. In addition, Mrs. Easter filed a request for a restraining order against Peters for allegedly “harassing and stalking” her along with making death threats. The restraining order request was denied.
The vendetta was taken to a new level, however, when the Easters allegedly planted drugs in Peters car and then made an anonymous call to authorities in an attempt to frame the PTA president. The call alleged that Peters was driving erratically and seen hiding drugs in her car’s backseat. Authorities responded to the call and found the drug paraphernalia. However, after interviewing others and searching Peter’s home the police did not find any other evidence to support drug possession or use.
Eventually, the police traced the drugs and anonymous tip back to Kent Easter. According to statements made by authorities, Kent Easter allegedly drove to the woman’s house at night and planted prescription drugs, marijuana, and a used marijuana pipe in a visible position in the woman’s backseat. Surveillance footage from a nearby hotel apparently show Easter making the anonymous call from a public phone.
The couple was arrested this week and charged with various felonies, including conspiracy to procure a false arrest, conspiracy to falsely report a crime, and false imprisonment. As with all felony charges, the potential punishment if convicted is severe. They each could face up to three years in prison. The couple is currently free on $20,000 bail and both are set for arraignment next month in Orange County Superior Court.
Criminal Defense in Southern California
This unique case is yet another reminder of the need for all those charged with crimes in our area to seek out an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Imagine if authorities were not able to piece together the alleged set-up in this case. The school volunteer may have faced serious drug charges with untold consequences on her life.
While this case may seem one-of-a-kind, individuals with a bias are often motivated to engage in conduct that leads to false arrests and criminal charges.
Things are not always as they appear on their face. That is exactly why key tenants of the criminal justice system are a presumption of innocence and a burden on the prosecution to prove each element of the claim beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled legal professional forces prosecutors to meet that burden and ensure that criminal defendants put their strongest foot forward throughout the process.
Contact the Johnson Criminal Law Group to discuss your individual case.