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Lawsuit filed against investigators, agencies involved in Carson case

POSTED April 13, 2018 6:03 p.m.

Georgia DeFilippo and her daughter, Christina DeFilippo, have filed a lawsuit against Stanislaus County and various cities and law enforcement agencies for violations of their civil rights after they were arrested in the homicide and conspiracy investigation into the death of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman.

The mother and daughter are the wife and step daughter of Frank Carson, the defense attorney who is currently facing charges including murder for the death of Kauffman. Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal, brothers who own the Pop N’ Cork stores in Turlock, are also charged with Kauffman’s murder.

The lawsuit was filed against Stanislaus County, the City of Modesto, the City of Turlock, the City of Ceres, and members of law enforcement and the district attorney’s office for violation of their civil rights, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and defamation. The mother and daughter had filed a claim back in October 2017 and it was expected that a lawsuit would be forthcoming once the claim was rejected.

Carson, Georgia DeFilippo, Athwal, Atwal, former California Highway Patrol Officer Walter Wells, were all arrested and charged with murder for the death of Kauffman in August 2015. Former CHP Officers Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar, and Christina DeFilippo were charged with being accessories after the fact and conspiracy.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office case claimed Carson — the one-time candidate for district attorney — was the mastermind of a criminal conspiracy that ultimately led to the death of Kauffman on March 31, 2012. The death was set into motion because Carson was angry about a series of thefts at his Turlock property that he believed were being carried out by his neighbor Michael Cooley, according to the district attorney’s office.

Kauffman was last seen by Cooley on March 30, 2012 as he left the Lander Avenue home to go to a property on Ninth Street. The district attorney’s office claims Kauffman was headed to Carson’s property to take some irrigation pipes that had been left out as “bait” to catch the thieves. In August 2013, hunters in Stanislaus County Forest in Mariposa County found Kauffman’s skull and eventually the rest of his remains were located in the area.

At the conclusion of an 18-month long preliminary hearing, Judge Barbara Zuniga held Carson and the two brothers over for trial on murder charges but ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold the mother and daughter over on any of the charges lodged by the prosecution.

“There’s no evidence there, even by the low standards of a preliminary hearing,” Zuniga said during her ruling.

The judge also ordered the murder charge against Wells dropped but kept the conspiracy charge against him.

The DeFilippos’ attorney claims the prosecution targeted the mother and daughter as a way to punish Carson for victories he had over the district attorney’s office in other cases.

“The DeFilippos were falsely and maliciously accused of murder and other crimes simply because of Stanislaus law enforcement’s contempt for Frank Carson. Even with their lies and misrepresentations, the defendants still were unable to produce evidence of any crimes by the DeFilippos, with the judge who ordered them released saying it was ‘not difficult.’ This lawsuit seeks damages to help mend the egregious wrongs the DeFilippos have been forced to endure,” said Randall Strauss of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, who represent the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit states that the arrests and the preliminary hearing took a financial and emotional toll on the mother and daughter.

“Georgia was traumatized by needlessly being housed in a maximum-security facility for 50 days,” the law firm representing them stated in a press release. “Due to the press coverage surrounding her arrest, Christina is unlikely to find work as a teacher, despite her exceptional credentials. Both women have become overwhelmed with depression and anxiety because of the defendants’ witch hunt against them. They live in fear that the defendants will again use their power to maliciously deprive them of life and liberty. Justice needs to be served to prevent further abuses by the Stanislaus law enforcement.”

In the filing of the lawsuit the complaint states that the steps taken by Carson and the DeFilippos to secure their property were taken by law enforcement as “evidence of a murderous conspiracy” and that the “sum total of the evidence used to bring charges against Georgia and Christina amounts to a few innocuous communications, which no reasonable officer would find established probable cause.”

The lawsuit claims investigators and prosecutors made false claims to obtain warrants and destroyed evidence that could have cleared the two women.

The lawsuit is seeking damages but has not set an amount.

 

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