The theft of prized scrap metal in a California attorney’s yard was enough for him to kill the man he believed was trying to steal it.
But he was not alone. According to an affidavit in the case, Modesto defense attorney Frank Carson had help from three California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers, corrupt friends, his wife, and his daughter.
He was arrested on Friday by multiple law enforcement agencies.
— Alexander Misono (@MisonoAlex) August 15, 2015
Carson and eight others are accused of killing Korey Alan Kauffman, dumping his body miles away in the forest, and covering up their crime by misleading investigators.
The 26-year-old Turlock resident was reported to have been supporting his family by stealing property and selling it as scrap metal. Selling scrap metal in California is legal, but only if the scrap metal was originally owned by the seller.
He was last seen by friends on the night of March 30, 2012. That evening, Kauffman left the home of friends Mike and Rickey Cooley to steal from Carson’s property. His body wasn’t found until over a year later.
The scrap metal killing investigation produced a 325-page affidavit containing interviews that revealed the lies, exposed via wiretaps and cell phone monitoring. Admissions, accusations, and boasts of the killing were also included.
According to the affidavit, Carson had armed himself and openly told his neighbor about what he’d do if anyone ever touched his things.
“If I ever catch anyone in my backyard, I will kill them, and no one will ever find them.”
Carson was tired of his property being stolen and used as scrap metal, so he decided to take the matter into his own hands, despite being told by officers not to.
Carson had previously contacted officers when things went missing. Some of those thefts were confirmed by officers and arrests were made, but other times officers were not able to find the culprits.
“Carson was frustrated with law enforcement’s response to the thefts,” the affidavit read.
He had originally thought that Mike Cooley, Kauffman’s friend, was responsible for the thefts. Carson was even seen stalking Cooley’s house.
Carson eventually enlisted the individuals who were also charged with the scrap metal killing. He and his thugs were originally waiting for Cooley. That night, when Kauffman entered the property looking for some irrigation pipes he had been eyeing to sell as scrap metal, Carson and company were waiting.
The next morning, Kauffman was nowhere to be found. He was reported missing by his stepfather, Kevin Lee Pickett, on April 2.
According to the affidavit, an anonymous letter appeared in Pickett’s mailbox.
“The letter said the writer ‘heard your son was beaten, I hope he’s not dead, I heard he was dumped in a dumpster in Modesto.'”
Hunters in the Stanislaus National Forest found Kauffman’s body on August 19, 2013.
Frank Carson was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, false imprisonment, conspiracy, and lying in wait for the scrap metal killing.
Modesto attorney Frank Carson arrested for murder, Carson ran for Stanislaus District Attorney in the last election. pic.twitter.com/xFSCXcWPzU
— Rich Ibarra (@CapRadioIbarra) August 14, 2015
His attorney, Percy Martinez, told the Associated Press that she believes that Carson’s arrest was politically motivated.
“We welcome the opportunity to fight this in court,” Martinez said.
Also arrested were liquor store owners Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal, Carson’s wife, Georgia Defilippo, and former CHP Officer Walter Wells. All four of them face first-degree murder charges.
Defilippo’s daughter Cristina Defilippo and CHP Officers Scott J. McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr. were also arrested in the scrap metal case and face conspiracy charges.
All three CHP officers withheld information during the investigation. Wells may have been in possession of Kauffman’s cellphone after the scrap metal killing, according to the affidavit.
According to CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, Officer Wells left the CHP several weeks ago, and the other two officers have been placed on administrative leave.
“The entire department and I are appalled at the mere thought that one former and two current employees played any role in this incident.”
All suspects are expected to be charged on Monday.
What is your opinion on officer involvement in the scrap metal killing? Do you think stolen scrap metal is reason enough to kill a man?
[Images via Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department]