SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — An attorney was sentenced Friday to six months in jail after authorities said he tried to frame a school volunteer by planting pot and painkillers in her car because she slighted his 6-year-old young son.
Kent Easter, 40, was sentenced by Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals after he was convicted by a jury last month of one felony count of false imprisonment by deceit.
Along with jail time, he was given three years of probation and required to perform 100 hours of community service. He also was ordered to stay away from victim Kelli Peters and her family.
His wife Jill, 41, pleaded guilty last year to false imprisonment in the scheme and was sentenced to four months in jail and 10 hours of community service. Her law license has since expired, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Defense attorney Thomas Bienert Jr. had argued that Kent Easter was feeling unwell and was in bed when his wife sneaked out of their home to plant the drugs during the early morning of Feb. 16, 2011.
Bienert said the sentence issued Friday was reasonable and fair given the guilty verdict. His motion for a new trial was denied Friday and he planned to appeal for a retrial.
Prosecutor Chris Duff said the crime was a result of miscommunication four years ago when Jill Easter went to pick up her son from school.
The volunteer was responsible for bringing students to the front of the school, and Easter believed her son was left behind. The prosecutor said Peters told Easter her son was "slow" and Easter believed the volunteer was insulting her son's mental capacities.
Authorities said the Easters disliked the volunteer because they felt she hadn't properly supervised their son, and they accused the volunteer of locking him outside during an afterschool program.
Over the next few months, the couple filed a lawsuit against Peters and the school, and sought a restraining order against Peters and asked that she be fired.
Duff said the couple later planted marijuana, a pipe, Vicodin and Percocet in her PT Cruiser. The defendants then called Irvine police and reported seeing Peters driving erratically and that she had drugs, he said.
Officers found drugs in her car and detained her. The Easters' DNA, however, came back on the drugs and Ken Easter's cellphone was found to have pinged next to the Peters' house early that morning when prosecutors believe the drugs were planted, Duff said.
"It was a small incident that appears to have grown and grown and grown, we still don't know what was so bad," Duff said. "They went after this woman who was the best volunteer the school had."