MODESTO, Calif. (CN) – A prominent Stanislaus County defense attorney and three California Highway Patrol officers were among nine people arrested Friday in connection with the 2012 murder of a Turlock man.
Frank Carson – who made an unsuccessful run for Stanislaus County district attorney last year – faces charges of first degree murder, conspiracy, false imprisonment and solicitation of a crime. The murder charge includes a firearm enhancement and a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
Carson’s wife Georgia Defilippo faces the same charges, as does former California Highway Patrol officer Walter Wells.
In a 326-page affidavit, investigators with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department allege Carson acted as the ringleader in the conspiracy to murder 26-year-old Korey Kauffman in 2012. Kauffman’s body was found a year and a half later in a remote area of Mariposa County.
Investigators say Kauffman, who supported his family by “scrapping” – street slang for stealing scrap metal and selling it to recyclers – left a friend’s home to steal irrigation pipes from Carson’s property.
The affidavit paints Carson as a vengeful property owner who as far back as 2005 has acted as a one-man vigilante to protect the junk piles on two lots he owns in Turlock.
Carson has been linked to Kauffman’s death since the man went missing. Investigators initially searched the defense attorney’s property shortly after Kauffman’s family reported him missing, but until Friday had refused to say whether he was a suspect.
Percy Martinez, Carson’s attorney, told The Modesto Bee that he and Carson have been waiting more than a year for investigators to get around to formally charging Carson and that he looked forward to clearing Carson’s name.
The CHP said Wells, a 7-year veteran of the force, was fired earlier this summer for conduct unrelated to Kauffman’s murder.
Two other CHP officers, Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr., face criminal conspiracy and accessory charges and have been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, the CHP said.
CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in Friday’s news conference announcing the arrests that his officers’ alleged involvement in Kauffman’s murder “rips at the soul of an organization.”
“The California Highway Patrol is a very proud organization that values integrity,” he said. “To hear news like this is devastating.”
Carson has been an outspoken critic of the woman who will likely be prosecuting him, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager, for years.
In 2013, he sued the county and DA investigator Steve Jacobson over an incident in which Jacobson allegedly smacked a camera from Carson’s hand in a courtroom hallway.
The following year he ran to unseat Fladager as district attorney, but garnered less than 30 percent of the vote.
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