Nine people have been arrested, including a prominent lawyer and three CHP officers, in the 2012 murder of a drifter.
Frank Carson, a Modesto-based defense attorney, is the alleged ringleader of a conspiracy surrounding the death of Korey Kauffman, who disappeared in March of 2012. Kauffman's body was found almost a year-and-a-half later in August of 2013 in Stanislaus National Forest, just outside of Yosemite. According to the arrest affidavit (.pdf), Carson was trying to send a message to people who were stealing scrap metal, car parts and antiques off his Turlock property.
The others arrested on Friday include three California Highway Patrol officers, two brothers who own liquor stores in Turlock, and Carson's wife and stepdaughter. Robert Lee Woody, who Carson previously represented in a case, was arrested last year in connection with the case and has been in custody since.
According to authorities, Kauffman made his living by recycling scrap metal and frequently targeted Carson's property.
"The whole scrapper life, I didn’t approve of it," Tony Kauffman, the victim's father, told The Modesto Bee. "You know how fathers are with their sons, we tend to be harder on them. But he chose his own path. He was a good kid with a good heart and he didn't deserve what he got."
Kauffman was last seen in March of 2012, after he said he was going to steal pipes from Carson's property, reports KCAL. After he was reported missing, Kauffman's stepfather received a note that read, according to KCRA. "Heard your son was beaten, I hope he's not dead, I heard he was dumped in a dumpster in Modesto."
Hunters later discovered his body in the woods in August of the next year.
Carson faces charges of murder, criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment and two counts of soliciting a crime. His wife, Georgia Geanette DeFilippo, faces charges of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment, while his stepdaughter, Cristina Anne DeFilippo, was arrested on suspicion of criminal conspiracy and being an accessory.
According to the affidavit, Carson also enlisted the help of Baljit Athwal and his brother, Daljit Atwal, who own Pop-N-Cork liquor stores in Turlock. The brothers were arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment.
Walter Wells, Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr. are the three CHP officers who have been arrested in the case. Wells is charged with degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment and no longer works for the agency. The other two have been placed on leave and charged with criminal conspiracy and being an accessory. "The California Highway Patrol is a very proud organization that values integrity... to hear news like this is devastating," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow at a press conference.
According to Tony Kauffman, McFarlane was neighbors with his son.
Carson's defense attorney Percy Martinez says his client is prepared to fight the charges. Carson has been a vocal critic of the Stanislaus County District Attorney and unsuccessfully ran for her office last year. A civil trial against the county was scheduled to start earlier this week where Carson accused a county investigator of harassment—that trial was postponed and not rescheduled.
"Whenever Mr. Carson shakes their tree, they turn around and shake his tree," said Martinez.