We previously discussed the case of Kent and Jill Easter, two California lawyers arrested for allegedly planting drugs in the car of a nemesis on the PTA board. The case has turned even more bizarre with Kent Easter blaming Jill Easter for the crime. The couple is separated and, after the arrest, Kent Easter learned that his wife was involved in an affair.
The charge is a novel one. They are charged with false imprisonment in the scheme to have Kelli Peters arrested on drug charges. Kent Easter, 40, called police to report Peters as driving erratically and carrying drugs in her back seat. Jill Easter, 40, is accused of planting bags with marijuana, a used marijuana pipe, Vicodin and Percocet. She has already pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. The Easters were upset with Peters over the treatment of their son at his elementary school. They sued Peters for falsely imprisoned their son and intentionally inflicting emotional distress by locking him out of the school building after a tennis class.
Kent Easter now claims that he was sick on February 16, 2001 during the planting of the drugs and that he was basically bullied into calling the police by his more dominant wife. It is the ultimate wimp defense. His attorney insisted “Kent Easter was a trusting husband, what he wasn’t was a standup to his wife . . . a good human being who didn’t have a backbone against his wife, she wore the pants in the family.”
Kent Easter insists that he was largely unaware of the plot as well as his wife’s affair. However, he used a false name and called from a public phone to implicate Peters. Moreover, records show him repeatedly calling and texting his wife during the critical period.
Kelli Peters, who went on to become president of the local PTA chapter, is now suing (with her husband and child) the Easters. Even though she was only briefly detained, Kelli Peters claims that she lives in fear of being falsely arrested again. She has obviously strong claims on intentional infliction of emotional distress and other torts. The fear of future false arrests may not resonate with the jury but the Easters have succeeded in triggering criminal and civil liability that will haunt them (and their son) for many years to come.
The combination of the conspiracy to file a false police report with false imprisonment is clearly designed to increase the sentencing range for the couple. Citizens are generally protected in making police reports, but to do so with knowledge of the falsity can be used to defeat immunity arguments.
Jill Easter has been sentenced to one year in prison with all but 120 days stayed, followed by three years of probation, and 100 hours of community service. She wisely allowed her law license to lapse.
Source: LA Now