Criminal Justice

Prominent lawyer is accused of conspiring to kill scrap-metal scavenger in retaliation for thefts

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A prominent California lawyer said to be angered over thefts of scrap metal and antiques from his property has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the 2012 death of a scavenger.

Lawyer Frank Carson of Modesto is accused of being the ringleader of a conspiracy to kill 26-year-old Korey Kauffman of Turlock, report the Modesto Bee and the Los Angeles Times. Kauffman’s body was found by hunters in rural Maricopa County, California, in 2013. Police believe he was killed in the Turlock area in 2012, and his body dumped.

Also arrested on Friday with Carson were eight others, including his wife, three police officers and two brothers who own two liquor stores. Already arrested in the alleged conspiracy was Robert Lee Woody, a former client of Carson’s, who was arrested on suspicion of murder in March 2014.

Carson is accused of murder, criminal conspiracy, false imprisonment and soliciting a crime. According to the Los Angeles Times, an affidavit supporting arrest warrants portrays Carson as “aggressive; dismissive of help from law enforcement; angered by repeated thefts of antiques, car parts and other materials from his Turlock property; and intent on retaliating against those responsible.”

Carson has previously said any suggestion he was involved in Kauffman’s death is absurd. Carson’s lawyer, Percy Martinez, told the Modesto Bee he and Carson look forward to fighting the allegations and clearing Carson’s name.

The accused officers worked for the California Highway Patrol. One is accused of murder, criminal conspiracy and false imprisonment, while two others are charged with criminal conspiracy and being an accessory.

The business owners owned a liquor store and allegedly entertained the charged officers in the back room of their store; the officers are accused of trying to intervene when they came under suspicion.

Carson made an unsuccessful bid in 2014 to become the Stanislaus County district attorney.

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