Calif. Highway Patrol officers and defense attorney arrested in probe of ‘scrapper’ murder
Two current California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers and a former colleague, as well as a former candidate for district attorney in Stanislaus County, were arrested on Friday as part of the investigation into the death of a Northern California man, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The attorney, Frank Carson, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Korey Kauffman. Both the former officer, Walter Wesley Wells, and Carson’s wife, Georgia Geanette Defilippo, face the same charge, along with charges of false imprisonment and criminal conspiracy. The other two officers, Scott J. McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr., were charged with criminal conspiracy and being an accessory to Kauffman’s death.
Three other men were charged with first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment: liquor store owners Baljit Athwal and his brother Daljit Atwal, and 39-year-old Robert Lee Woody. Woody has been in custody since March 2014 and has already pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. Carson’s daughter, Cristina Anne Defilippo, was also arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy and being an accessory.
“I am saddened by this news,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said at a press conference. “The California Highway Patrol is a very proud organization that values integrity.”
Farrow also told reporters that Wells’ employment with the department was terminated this past June over “conduct unrelated to the murder investigation.” Wells was an officer for seven years. His former colleagues are currently on administrative leave.
The investigation into Kauffman’s death began in October 2013. His body had been found two months earlier in the Stanislaus National Forest. The Turlock resident, who reportedly made his living as a “scrapper” — a person who sells stolen scrap metal for recycling — had been reported as missing since April 2012.
KCRA-TV reported that shortly after Kauffman’s disappearance, his stepfather, Kevin Pritchett, received an anonymous letter saying, “Heard your son was beaten, I hope he’s not dead, I heard he was dumped in a dumpster in Modesto.”
“The whole scrapper life, I didn’t approve of it,” the victim’s father, Tony Kauffman, told the 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.”
According to KXTV-TV, Kauffman was killed on a property Carson owned in the same town. The attorney, who ran unsuccessfully for office in 2014, was allegedly angry that Kauffman had stolen property from him.
“Frank Carson has multiple ties to the criminal element in the community and has solicited them on several occasions to commit acts of violence making him a significant danger to society,” the suspects’ arrest affadavit stated. “Frank Carson’s position as an officer of the court has been seriously abused and compromised by his willingness to utilize the court process in an effort to thwart this investigation and to conceal his criminal conduct thus making him a significantly higher danger to the public.”
Watch a report on the investigation, as aired on KMAX-TV, below.
The arrest affadavit, as posted by KXTV, can be read below.