A former attorney convicted of trying to set up an Irvine PTA mom on a phony drug possession charge dropped her appeal of a multimillion-dollar civil judgment against her Wednesday.
The move prompted the Fourth District Court of Appeal to end any chances that Jill Easter, who now goes by the name Ava Everheart, could have the judgment against her overturned.
She had continued on with her appeal even after her ex-husband, Kent Easter, also a former attorney who was disbarred, dropped his appeal and settled his case with Kelli Peters, her husband and their teenage daughter.
Attorney Robert Marcereau, who won the civil case against the Easters, appeared for oral arguments Dec. 21, but Everheart was a no-show. Marcereau speculated that perhaps she did not want her name associated with a precedent-setting, published appellate ruling.
“I think we can pretty much close the book on this case barring some really unforeseen circumstances with collection efforts against Jill,” Marcereau said.
Kent Easter “somehow, some way, got some money cobbled together and paid… a significant sum that made a difference in (the Peters family’s) lives,” he said.
Netflix is developing a movie about the saga, which drew international headlines when the Easters got busted. George Clooney is producing and Julia Roberts is set to star, according to Marcereau.
“Hopefully that Netflix movie will get made and continue to help them (the Peters),” Marcereau said. “They feel vindicated and happy they did end up getting a significant amount of money so far.”
Two years ago, Kent Easter also dropped his appeal of his felony conviction for false imprisonment by deceit, just days after a civil jury awarded $5.7 million in damages to the Peters family.
A jury, which deliberated for about an hour, unanimously agreed in February 2016 to award the Peters family $1.5 million in punitive damages against Kent Easter, and $2.1 million against his ex-wife.
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.
With ongoing interest, Everheart might owe another $1 million by now, Marcereau said.
Everheart, who pleaded guilty prior to going to trial, was disbarred in October 2014, but she had not been practicing law since 2005. Her ex-husband was disbarred in July of last year.
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 his then-wife 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 seeking a temporary restraining order based on allegations that they’d received threats. 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.
–City News Service
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