Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A suspended attorney convicted of trying to set up an Irvine PTA mom with a phony drug possession charge dropped his appeal, prompting the Fourth District Court of Appeal to dismiss the case Wednesday.

Kent Easter’s move to drop his appeal of his felony conviction for false imprisonment by deceit on Tuesday followed a $5.7 million civil verdict in a lawsuit brought against him and his disbarred ex-wife by the victim and her family.

A jury, which deliberated for about an hour, unanimously agreed to award Kelli Peters, her husband, and their 15-year-old daughter $1.5 million in punitive damages against Kent Easter, and $2.1 million against his ex-wife, Jill, who now goes by the name Ava Everheart.

The jury also awarded Kelli Peters $365,000 in compensatory damages for false imprisonment and $800,000 for emotional distress. Her husband and daughter were  awarded $365,000 and $600,000, respectively, in compensatory damages.

Kent Easter, who represented himself in the civil case, told jurors it was his last jury trial and testified that he intended to drop his appeal. His law license has been suspended since Dec. 10, 2014, pending the appeal of his conviction.

Peters’ attorney, Rob Marcereau noted that Easter “steadfastly maintained that he was innocent” as recently as a month ago in a deposition. The attorney said Peters did not wish to comment on the dismissal of the appeal.

Calls to Easter, 41, and his attorney, William J. Kopeny, were not immediately returned.

Easter declared bankruptcy before the civil trial, but he cannot get off the hook from the $5.7 million verdict.

Easter said he cannot pay such a sizable judgment. He has been trying to get work as a legal consultant, but jobs have been sparse and he said he’s living with his parents while also caring for the ex-couple’s three children. He also noted that being a convicted felon disqualifies him from most jobs.

His ex-wife, who pleaded guilty prior to going on trial, was disbarred in October 2014, but she had not been practicing law since 2005.

The conflict with Peters started six years ago when Everheart went to pick up her then-6-year-old son from an afterschool program at Plaza Vista School, which was run by Peters. When she couldn’t find her son right away, she confronted Peters, who noted that the boy was “slow” to line up for a parental pickup.

Peters said she did not mean it as an insult, but Everheart took it as a comment about her son’s intelligence and the battle was on.

Kent Easter and Everheart tried to get Peters fired from the volunteer post, and when that failed, they ramped up the revenge with a lawsuit of their own alleging false imprisonment against their son and a temporary restraining order alleging threats against the Easters. The lawsuit was dismissed, and the TRO was denied.

Finally, the duo had marijuana, Vicodin and Percocet planted in Peters’ car and Kent Easter went to a hotel near his job and called police from the lobby, using an Indian name and lapsing in and out of a fake accent to claim that the PTA mom was driving erratically.

Irvine police quickly calculated that Peters had been set up and the focus turned to the Easters. The most damning evidence against Kent Easter was surveillance video footage of him in the hotel lobby making the call to police.

— Wire reports 

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