Kelli Peters a former PTA president in Irvine, California was awarded $5.7 million in damages on Friday after two conniving parents attempted to set the Plaza Vista School volunteer with marijuana in her car as revenge.
The judgement came after a jury deliberated less than an hour.
The award came after the now-divorced couple, Kent Easter and Jill Easter (n0w going by the name of Ava Everheart), both former lawyers were charged with conspiracy to procure the false arrest of the elementary-school parent volunteer, false imprisonment and conspiracy to falsely report a crime.
According to a report via the Orange County Register, the former couple will have to pay nearly $4 million of the sum themselves.
Told an emotional Peters after the verdict: ‘This was really not about money, this was about standing up to people that pick on other people and telling them it’s not OK to do this,’
‘I feel like justice has been served.’
According to a report via OC Weekly fissure erupted in 2010 after the mother confronted Peters after the woman’s then seven year old son failed to be picked up. At the time, Kelli Peters told the mother her son was ‘a little slow’ in getting outside, which Jill Easter interpreted as an insult to her son’s intelligence.
Tensions escalated for a year, with the mother accusing Peters of stalking her son and demanding Peters be removed from her post. The school said it found no evidence of wrongdoing from Peters, declining to take any action against her.
Come 2011, Jill and Kent hatched a plot where they planted marijuana and prescription pills in Peters’ car. Then Kent called cops, using a fake name and Indian accent, accusing Peters of erratic driving on school grounds.
The call led to Peters being detained for police questioning for two hours in front of parents and students along with her own daughter.
Told Peters during trial: ‘I was crying and begging for him to not put the drugs on the car, because people would see it,’
‘Everybody was looking at me and I felt very humiliated.’
Kelli Peters was never charged.
In a twist of events, the Easters accused Peters of exaggerating her distress to try cashing in on the incident, with the father confessing to the phoned-in crime.
When asked in court if he planted the drugs on Peters, Kent Easter replied: ‘Very stupidly, and unfortunately, yes.’
Of note, Kent declared bankruptcy a week before the trial started. His law license has since been suspended, while his former wife has been disbarred. Kent defended himself, saying he didn’t have the money for an attorney.
Despite Kent Easter declaring bankruptcy, Rob Marcereau, Peters’ attorney said the debts from the awards for emotional distress, false imprisonment and punitive damages are not dischargable in bankruptcy.
The award comes after Kent Easter, a Stanford-educated attorney was convicted of felony false imprisonment in 2014 and spent 87 days in jail. Jill Easter pleaded guilty to the same charge and spent about 60 days behind bars.