Prominent Modesto defense attorney Frank Carson arrested on suspicion of murder, 3 CHP officers also arrested

Prominent Modesto CA criminal defense attorney Frank Carson and eight others, including three California Highway Patrol officers, were arrested Friday for their suspected involvement in the 2012 death of Korey Kauffman. The 26-year-old Turlock man’s body was found in Mariposa County a year and a half after he went missing.

A 326-page arrest affidavit details an alleged conspiracy, with Carson identified as its ringleader. The defense attorney, who last year ran for district attorney, is described as a vengeful property owner trying to send a message to people allegedly stealing scrap metal and antiques from his property in Turlock.

Authorities say Kauffman was known for “scrapping,” street slang for stealing metals to sell to recyclers. The victim participated in metal theft to make ends meet. On the night of his disappearance, Kauffman left a friend’s home to steal irrigation pipes from Carson’s property, according to the affidavit.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has released the arrest affidavit, which lists nine people arrested, including Carson’s wife, two Turlock business owners and the three CHP officers.

Along with the murder charge, the defense attorney faces charges of criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment and two counts of soliciting a crime. Those in the affidavit charged with murder also face an enhancement for the use of gun in the homicide and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.

Carson has said that any suggestion he’s involved in Kauffman’s death is absurd. Until Friday, officials involved in the investigation had refused to say whether Carson is a suspect in the murder, saying it would be inappropriate to comment on the pending case.

As part of the Kauffman investigation, authorities searched Carson’s property not long after Kauffman went missing. Authorities believe Kauffman was killed on March 30, 2012 somewhere in the Turlock area and his body was secretly transported to Mariposa where hunters discovered it in August 2013.

Percy Martinez, Carson’s attorney, told The Modesto Bee on Friday that he and his client have been waiting more than a year for authorities to make their allegations public, instead of investigators frequently bringing up Carson’s name while questioning witnesses and suspects in the Kauffman case. Martinez said they look forward to fighting the allegations in court and clearing Carson’s name.

Carson’s wife, Georgia Geanette Defilippo, faces charges of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment. Her daughter Cristina Anne Defilippo was arrested on suspicion of criminal conspiracy and being an accessory.

Baljit Athwal and his brother Daljit Atwal, who spell their last names differently, have been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment.

The brothers, who own the Pop-N-Cork Liquor stores in Turlock, have claimed repeated harassment by law enforcement officials involved in the Kauffman murder investigation and organized protests outside the District Attorney’s Office in downtown Modesto. They also have filed a federal lawsuit against members of a local investigative task force looking into the murder.

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