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Parents planted drugs on PTA president, police say

June 20, 2012 | 11:42 am

 

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

The school volunteer and PTA president allegedly targeted by parents who planted drugs in her car said she thought she was the victim of a joke when police came to question her.

"I thought I was on a joke show, like someone was playing a joke on me," Kelli Peters told KTLA.

Authorities say that an Irvine couple planted drugs in the volunteer's car because they were displeased with her supervision of their son, a student at Plaza Vista Elementary School in Irvine.

"They tried to make me look like the worst person you could be when you’re involved with a school," Peters told KTLA. "I just don't understand it."

The parents arrested in the case — Kent and Jill Easter, both 38 and both attorneys — had previously sued Peters twice in 2010, though both cases were later dismissed, according to Orange County court records.

When announcing the Easters had been arrested on felony charges Tuesday, the Orange County district attorney's office said the couple devised a plan to get the volunteer arrested.

Prosecutors say Kent Easter drove to the volunteer’s home shortly after midnight on Feb. 16, 2011, and put a bag of prescription pain medication and marijuana, along with a used marijuana pipe, in plain sight in the woman’s unlocked car.

He then allegedly called police from a public phone in Newport Beach and falsely reported seeing the volunteer — whom he identified by name — driving erratically to the school and hiding drugs behind the driver's seat of her car.

Irvine police went to the school the night and found the drugs, but after speaking with the volunteer and searching her home, found "no evidence to support drug use or possession," the Orange County district attorney's office said.

Detectives later turned their attention to the Easters after determining the drugs were likely planted in the woman's car. Video surveillance from a hotel near Kent Easter's Newport Beach office showed him allegedly making the initial call to authorities, and prosecutors said the Easters were texting and calling each other during that time.

Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said investigators had no indication other parents were upset with the volunteer, whom she described as "completely professional."

"This was obviously something they had sought out and planned with the intent of having her arrested," Emami said.

Calls to Kent Easter at his law office were not immediately returned.

The couple, who are free on $20,000 bail each, are scheduled to be arraigned next month in Orange County Superior Court. If convicted, they could face up to three years in state prison.

[For the Record, 12:53 p.m. Dec. 19: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that video surveillance allegedly showed Kent Easter making a 911 call to authorities.  Prosecutors said the call was made to a non-emergency number.]

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— Kate Mather

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