The wife and step daughter of defense attorney Frank Carson, who were swept up into the investigation of the death of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman, have filed claims against the city of Ceres, other cities and the county, alleging they were targeted as part of a political vendetta.
Georgia DeFilippo and her daughter, Christina DeFilippo, filed claims Wednesday against Stanislaus County, the cities of Ceres, Turlock and Modesto and members of the District Attorney's office and law enforcement members claiming malicious prosecution, defamation, violations of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, false imprisonment, violations of their 1st, 4th, 9th, and 14th amendment rights and violations of the California Civil Code.
Attorney Gary Gwilliam, who is representing the mother and daughter, said it was a travesty of justice that the two were even arrested and charged with Kauffman's murder.
"It was an outrageous conspiracy to charge these women with crimes they are innocent of," Gwilliam said.
"In addition to the lack of evidence against the DeFilippos, there were lies and misrepresentations in search warrants that violated the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of Georgia and Christina. There is also evidence that at least one judge told Defendants that the warrants lacked probable cause," Gwilliam stated in a news release.
"Stanislaus County DA's Office, publicly defamed our clients and maliciously abused their position to try to create false testimony against Georgia DeFilippo's husband, well known criminal defense attorney Frank Carson," said attorney Randall Strauss, who is aiding in the mother and daughter's representation.
Carson, Georgia DeFilippo, former California Highway Patrol Officer Walter Wells, and brothers Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal of Ceres, who own the Pop N' Cork stores in Turlock, were all arrested and charged with murder for the death of Kauffman. Former CHP Officers Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar, and Carson's stepdaughter Christina DeFilippo were charged with being accessories after the fact and conspiracy.
The District Attorney's office claims Carson was angry over thefts at his property on Ninth Street in Turlock that he believed were being committed by his Lander Avenue neighbor Michael Cooley. Their theory of the case has Carson - the one-time candidate for district attorney - serving as the mastermind of a criminal conspiracy that ultimately led to the death of Kauffman on March 31, 2012. 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.
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.
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.
"I was arrested and sent to jail for crimes I did not commit," Georgia DeFilippo said. "My reputation and my daughter's reputation was shattered in the newspapers, on television, and over the internet. Over the last two years, I have drained my financial resources and spent my retirement savings defending myself and my daughter in an incident my family had no part of. My health has been affected mentally, emotionally, and physically and the good life I had worked so hard to maintain for 65 years was ruined.
"It took two years of a convoluted, unwieldy and incomprehensible preliminary examination for a judge to tell the district attorney she had no evidence against my daughter and me. We are completely and entirely innocent of the felonies we were charged with and the prosecution knew it," Georgia DeFilipoo continued.
Georgia DeFilippo said she had to spend $390,000 in bail and approximately $500,000 in attorneys' fees. The claim also states there was an additional $87,732.56 incurred in court costs, lost income and severe emotional distress including being housed in a maximum-security facility for 50 days.
Christina DeFilippo had recently graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts and intended to pursue a career as an artist and teacher. The claim states that due to the press surrounding her arrest it is "unlikely she will ever be hired to teach."
"Both women have become overwhelmed with depression and anxiety surrounding Defendants' witch hunt against them and the continued efforts to violate their privacy by continuing to seek search warrants for their phones and computers. They live in fear of Defendants' use of power to try to deprive them of their lives and liberty," Gwilliam said in a news release.
Filing a claim is the first step and often a precursor to a formal lawsuit. Each entity named in the claim has an opportunity to accept or deny it. It's typical that most claims are denied, which allows for the filing of a lawsuit.