SAN FRANCISCO -- Three current and former California Highway Patrol officers, a prominent criminal defense lawyer and five other people were arrested Friday in connection with the disappearance and killing of a Central Valley man, officials said.
Law enforcement officials announced the arrests during a brief news conference in Modesto. The officials said the nine people all played a part in killing Korey Kauffman, 26, who was reported missing in April 2012.
Kauffman's body was found by hunters in August 2013 in a remote area of Central California.
An arrest warrant says attorney Frank Carson orchestrated the killing and enlisted the help of two brothers who own a liquor store in Turlock.
Investigators say Carson believed Kauffman was stealing valuable antiques from storage containers on his property and arranged for his death.
Carson's attorney Percey Martinez said his client is innocent and his arrest was politically motivated.
Carson ran unsuccessfully for district attorney last year. Carson has been under investigation for two years, Martinez said.
"We welcome the opportunity to fight this in court," Martinez said.
The CHP officers were all associated with the brothers and the Turlock liquor store.
CHP officers Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar are suspected of obstructing the investigation. Former CHP Officer Walter Wells is suspected in the killing.
"The entire department and I are appalled at the mere thought that one former and two current employees played any role in this incident," CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.
All the suspects remained in jail.