- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - Three current and former California Highway Patrol officers, a prominent criminal defense attorney and four others were formally charged Tuesday in connection with the disappearance and death of a Northern California man.

Investigators say attorney Frank Carson arranged the killing of 26-year-old Korey Kauffman. Carson suspected Kauffman and others of stealing valuables stored on his Turlock, California, property.

In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office said Carson hatched a plan to leave valuables in plain view to entice would-be burglars to enter his property while it was being guarded by people including clients who were working off legal fees.

Kauffman was last seen alive heading to Carson’s property on March 30, 2012. Kauffman’s friends say he intended to steal metal irrigation pipes visible in Carson’s yard when he disappeared. Kauffman’s body was found more than a year later in a remote forest area near Yosemite National Park.

Carson, his wife, a former CHP officer and two brothers who own a Turlock liquor store were formally charged with murder Tuesday. Two active CHP officers and Carson’s stepdaughter were charged with obstruction of justice. A ninth person was previously charged with murder.

Carson’s attorney denies the charges.

The complaint filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Tuesday and a 352-page affidavit filed by police to obtain arrest warrants offer few clues into why former CHP officer Walter Wells was charged with murder. Court documents suggest Wells may have had Kauffman’s cellphone the night police believe Kauffman was killed.

Wells was fired in June, according to the CHP.

Two current CHP officers - Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar - are charged with obstructing the investigation. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

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