'Health Emergency' Delays Alleged Drug-Planting Couple's Arraignment

Kent and Jill Easter of Irvine miss their scheduled court appearance because of a medical issue that purportedly left one of them "unable to speak."

A duo appeared Thursday in a Santa Ana courtroom, but it wasn't the married couple from Irvine the judge expected to see.

Jill Bjorkholm Easter and Kent Wycliffe Easter, a pair of 38-year-old lawyers accused of conspiring to plant drugs in the car of a school volunteer at their son's elementary campus, did not appear as ordered for their arraignment.

Instead, the Easters sent their lawyers, who cited a sudden "healthcare emergency" as the reason for their absence.

The couple retained separate lawyers: Kent Easter's attorney, Thomas Bienert, said he heard second- and third-hand Thursday morning that his client was dealing with a medical issue that rendered him temporarily "unable to speak."

Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm granted a month's delay for the hearing.

The Irvine couple was arrested in June, accused of conspiring to plant drugs in an elementary school volunteer's car and calling police to report the drugs from a Newport Beach hotel near Kent Easter's legal practice.

They are charged with conspiring to get the volunteer arrested and jailed. They are also accused of conspiring to file a fake crime report.

The husband and wife were  on $20,000 bail. According to court records, they posted bail June 26.

According to investigators, the Easters thought the volunteer had not supervised their son properly and so retaliated by going to her home early on Feb. 16, 2011, and stashing drugs in her car.

Kent Easter intentionally left the drugs in plain sight, prosecutors contend. As he drove to and from the volunteer's home, the Easters were allegedly in constant phone and text message contact, police said.

Kent Easter called the Irvine Police Department that afternoon and, using a fake name and number, said he saw an erratic driver park at the elementary school, according to police.

He said he watched the volunteer, whom he named, hide a bag of drugs behind her driver's seat, according to the OCDA. He also described the volunteer's car, including its license plate number.

Irvine police responded to Kent Easter's call and found the bag of drugs in the volunteer's vehicle. The volunteer, who was detained by police for about two hours, said the drugs did not belong to her and she did not know how they ended up in her car. She agreed to a search of her home, which did not turn up any evidence of drug use or possession, police said.

Once police discovered the volunteer had been in a classroom during the time Kent Easter claimed to have seen her hide drugs in the car, they began investigating whether the contraband had been planted.

The investigation led to the Easters, including surveillance video of Kent Easter at a Newport Beach hotel near where he worked, from which police allege he placed the Feb. 16 call to police.

If convicted, the Easters face a maximum three years in state prison.

Jill Easter, as the L.A. Times first reported, once authored a crime novel under the pseudonym Ava Bjork. The book, titled Holding House, is about a man who discovers the "perfect crime," according to a website where it's still being sold. On the site, Easter describes herself as an "American author living in Southern California."

According to a law blog, Kent Easter is a UCLA Law graduate who is a partner at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth, a mid-size California firm. Jill Easter was admitted to the Bar in 1998, but her license has since expired, according to the district attorney.

Tennickly August 24, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Sure, the Pulp Fiction thing is cool, but it's not why I mentioned restaurants. See, the family of one of the guys who sadly perished in the stabbing at Albatros last year is suing the restaurant on the grounds the restaurant employees should have anticipated the confrontation in the parking lot and prevented it. So, I figure we're now putting the responsibility on restaurant employees to prevent crimes. If this couple conspired to frame this school volunteer while they were in a restaurant, why didn't the restaurant employees anticipate this conspiracy and do more to prevent it?
Kitty Kat August 26, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Since these two clowns hired separate attorneys, does this mean the husband or wife is going to roll over on the other?
Curious1 August 26, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Separate attorneys make sense. One has been accused of committing the crime, the other is accused of conspiring. Why would it take so long if the DA claims to have all this great evidence? Makes me wonder whats really going on.
Tennickly August 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
They are both attorneys. They know how to play the game. I expect both to walk with six months' probation at a maximum.
Curious1 August 26, 2012 at 01:27 PM
The DA in an interview said they have DNA evidence. Thought that is enough to make the conviction. Why delay? Did the DA screw up and these 2 are innocent? I have always believed innocent until proven guilty. But then again, we have had innocent people behind bars before.


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