A husband and wife were arrested today and charged with conspiring to have an elementary school parent volunteer arrested and imprisoned by planting drugs in her car because they felt she wasn't caring for their son properly, the Orange County district attorney's office reported.
Kent Wycliffe Easter, 38, and Jill Bjorkholm Easter, 38, of Irvine, were taken into custody by the Irvine Police Department and are charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to procure the false arrest and charging of the parent volunteer, false imprisonment, and conspiracy to falsely report a crime. If convicted, the pair face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.
The charges stem from incidents that began in 2010, when the alleged victim was a parent volunteer at an elementary school in Irvine, where the Easters' son was a student. Prosecutors allege that Jill Easter thought the volunteer was not properly supervising their son and that in 2011 the couple plotted to have her arrested in retaliation.
At about 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 16, 2011, authorities say, Kent Easter -- an attorney -- drove to the home of Jane Doe and placed a bag of Vicodin, Percocet, marijuana, and a used marijuana pipe behind the driver's seat of her unlocked vehicle. The Easters are accused of being in constant cellphone and text message contact as Kent Easter drove to and from the alleged victim's home.
Later that day, at about 1:15 p.m., prosecutors say, Kent Easter called police while he was working from a Newport Beach hotel, provided a fake name and phone number and told the dispatcher he saw an erratic driver park at the elementary school. He also identified the alleged victim by name and told police he saw her hide a bag of drugs behind the driver's seat of her car. Prosecutors say the couple called and texted each other before and after the call to police.
Responding police officers found the car in the school parking lot with the bag of marijuana and contacted the volunteer on the school campus. The alleged victim consented to a search of her car but told police that the drugs did not belong to her and that she did not know how they ended up in her car, according to prosecutors.
The woman was detained for about two hours until Irvine detectives concluded she was in a classroom at the time Kent Easter claimed to have seen her hide drugs in her car. The woman also allowed police to search of her home, which showed no evidence to support drug use or possession and did not support a link to show that she was knowingly in possession of the marijuana or prescription pills found in her vehicle.
Authorities say detectives investigated whether the evidence had been planted in the woman's car and discovered that the call made to police was placed by Kent Easter from a phone in the business center of a Newport Beach hotel near where he worked. The hotel's video surveillance captured images of Easter at the time the call was placed, prosecutors said.
Kent Easter has been an active member of the California state bar since 1998. His wife was also admitted to the bar in 1998, but her license has since expired. The Easters are expected to be arraigned July 17.