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Bureau of Investigation


The Bureau of Investigation’s more than 40 investigators provide professional investigative support in both criminal and civil matters to prosecutors handling cases in those areas and play a critical role in preparing cases for prosecution. The Bureau is staffed with a chief investigator, two deputy chief investigators, district attorney investigators, welfare fraud investigators, and investigative assistants.

Investigators serving within the Bureau are highly experienced and trained sworn peace officers who have been recruited from law enforcement agencies throughout California. Bureau investigators are available 24-hours-a-day and utilize the most advanced equipment to complete their assignments. Investigators within the Bureau may be called upon by their colleagues throughout the state and have been recognized as experts in a wide range of investigations from homicide to complex white-collar fraud schemes.

The Bureau of Investigation has two divisions: the Criminal Operations Division and the Special Operations Division. The Criminal Operations Division includes units that investigate major crimes, sexual assault, domestic violence, economic crimes, computer crimes, public assistance fraud, and child abductions. The Special Operations Division handles various responsibilities including training, recruitment, disaster preparedness, budget, risk management, fleet services, building and safety, as well as special projects, policies and procedures.

 
Child Abduction Recovery High Tech Task Force Real Estate Fraud
Consumer and Environmental Protection Homicides Sexual Assault
Domestic Violence Major Fraud Special Investigations
Economic Crimes Public Assistance Fraud Workers' Compensation Fraud
Gangs    

 


Child Abduction Recovery

When a child is being wrongfully withheld or concealed from a person with a right of custody, the District Attorney’s Child Abduction and Recovery Unit seeks to act on behalf of the court to assist in the enforcement of custody and visitation orders. The District Attorney’s Office does not represent either parent or party and is not a substitute for private counsel.

Wrongfully concealing or withholding a child from someone with a right to custody or visitation can be a felony; however in most cases, the Child Recovery Unit will attempt to facilitate voluntary compliance with court orders, including the return of the child to the jurisdiction where the child was wrongfully removed from, regardless of where that may be. There are also specific provisions that apply to international cases.

To obtain more information, please visit the California Superior Court’s Family Law Self-Help Center website at: http://www.ventura.courts.ca.gov/self-help.html. Additional information regarding custody and visitation issues can be found here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-custody.htm.

For more information and assistance from the District Attorney’s Child Recovery Unit by telephone, please call (805) 662-1755. If a child is missing or believed to have been abducted by a stranger, immediately call 911.

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Consumer and Environmental Protection

The District Attorney’s Consumer and Environmental Protection investigators work with the unit’s prosecutors to handle a broad range of consumer protection activities including unfair or dishonest business practices in Ventura County. These cases may include claims of false advertising, price-fixing, or deceptive sales practices. The same team of investigators also participates in the investigation of environmental crimes such as oil spills and illegal hazardous waste transportation, treatment, storage, or disposal.

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Consumer Fraud

The Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit investigates and prosecutes civil and criminal cases to enforce laws protecting the public against environmental violations, as well as unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices and deceptive advertising. Attorneys in this unit also seek to increase public awareness of issues regarding consumers and the environment through presentations to schools, service clubs and other groups. Any inquiries or referrals about potential violations of environmental or consumer laws may be directed to unit staff at (805) 662-1750.

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Domestic Violence

Investigators in the Sexual Assault Family Protection Unit work closely with prosecutors handling sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence cases. In most cases, once charges are filed, investigators and victim advocates are assigned to assist the attorneys as members of the prosecution team. Investigators work closely with attorneys to ensure all evidence is obtained and cases are properly prepared for trial. Significant time is spent with victims to prepare them for the trial process. Investigators receive specialized training in proper interviewing of child victims and special care is taken with them in all stages of the case. The unit’s investigators may also partner with local law enforcement agencies in investigations of potential criminal conduct before charges are evaluated by prosecutors. As a result, investigators become engaged in the earliest possible phase of these cases.

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Economic Crimes

Economic Crimes investigators handle a variety of white-collar criminal and civil consumer protection investigations, ranging from deceptive and misleading advertising to major fraud cases involving losses in the millions of dollars. Other cases investigated by this unit include workers’ compensation fraud, auto insurance fraud, environmental crimes, real estate fraud, asset forfeitures, and code enforcement violations.

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Gangs

Crimes committed by, for the benefit of, in association with, or at the direction of active criminal street gang members are prosecuted by experienced attorneys dedicated to achieving justice in these cases. Even though Ventura County is consistently ranked as one of the safest counties in the western United States, many violent criminal street gangs pose an ongoing threat to local residents. The crimes committed by those involved in gang activity may include vandalism, burglary, robbery, extortion, assault with a deadly weapon, trafficking in controlled substances, and murder. While the intended targets of such crimes may often be other gang members, the collateral risk and trauma caused by these crimes to innocent bystanders and the community as a whole mandate that all provable cases be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. For these reasons, the prosecutors and investigators assigned to handle gang cases are among the most experienced and talented people within the District Attorney’s Office.

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High Tech Task Force

In 2000, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office joined other Southern California law enforcement agencies to create the Southern California High Technology Crime Task Force (SCHTTF). The Task Force is made up of investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, civilian computer forensic examiners and representatives from other law enforcement agencies. The SCHTTF provides highly technical support and forensic technology services for the District Attorney’s ever-growing number of cases involving digital evidence and provides specialized training to other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Hundreds of computers, data storage devices and cellular phones are analyzed annually by the SCHTTF. Digital evidence has proven crucial in the prosecution of capital murder cases, sexual assaults and other serious cases. Task Force personnel also work with law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases involving Internet crimes against children and other computer crimes.

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Homicides

The investigators assigned to Major Crimes are responsible for conducting investigations in most homicides and other cases involving heinous or violent crimes. The investigators in the unit have an average of 23 years of law enforcement experience. The unit’s investigators act as liaisons between local police agencies and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in the handling of homicides and other serious crimes. Investigators serve as an indispensable aid in the prosecution of these cases by thoroughly investigating the background of the defendant and witnesses, conducting search and seizure of evidence, as well as coordinating witness interviews and the collection of statements of the parties involved. This unit’s investigators are also responsible for responding to officer involved shootings and working closely with deputy district attorneys to prepare a comprehensive public report in such cases.

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Major Fraud

Major Fraud investigations involve financial crimes. Typically, a major fraud case involves a suspect who intentionally misleads, yet convinces a victim to “invest” large sums of money into a business enterprise or investment. Such businesses and investments can be legitimate, quasi-legitimate or outright fraudulent, non-existing entities created for the sole purpose of enriching the suspect. There are various types of fraud, but some common schemes include the following: credit card fraud, loan fraud, investment fraud, money laundering, Ponzi schemes, multi-layer pyramid schemes, and securities fraud.

Cases involving major fraud routinely originate from a complaint brought into the District Attorney's Office via a victim or a referral from a local law enforcement agency. Many major fraud cases are worked jointly with other law enforcement agencies. If you believe you may be a victim of fraud you are encouraged to contact your local police department. Inquiries about major fraud cases may be directed to unit staff at (805) 662-1750.

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Public Assistance Fraud

District attorney investigators work in partnership with the Ventura County Human Services Agency (HSA) to investigate and assist in the prosecution of fraud committed by recipients of public assistance. By investigating and prosecuting these cases to the fullest extent of the law, this unit recovers money for the city and state, and also helps discourage future crimes against welfare programs. This unit consists of investigators who are sworn peace officers in the State of California as well as investigative specialists that act to support the unit’s operations.

One focus of the unit’s investigations is to prevent ineligible applicants from receiving welfare benefits. Investigators conduct in-field operations to provide information to the HSA staff before welfare benefits are issued, so as to assist in preventing the fraudulent receipt of welfare benefits. Welfare fraud investigators also focus on individuals that received benefits for which they were ineligible and potentially did so fraudulently.

The results of investigations may range from a finding that the allegation of fraud was unfounded, to a finding that crimes were committed as individuals fraudulently obtained welfare benefits over several years costing thousands of dollars. Criminal prosecution for welfare fraud, recovery of benefits fraudulently obtained, and periods of disqualification from receiving future welfare benefits may result from these investigations.

Referrals about potential welfare fraud are received from several sources including HSA, welfare fraud hotlines, as well as other agencies that refer possible welfare fraud cases to the District Attorney’s Office. To report a case of potential welfare fraud, please call the Government Fraud Unit during business hours at (805) 477-1605.

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Real Estate Fraud

The Real Estate Fraud Unit investigates crimes involving recorded real estate documents. Criminal real estate fraud may involve home equity fraud, securities fraud related to real estate, foreclosure rescue fraud and mortgage fraud. Victims of criminal real estate fraud are encouraged to report these crimes to their local police department or file a complaint with our office. The Real Estate Fraud Unit accepts complaints directly from the public and the complaint form is available, click here, or may be obtained from the District Attorney’s Office staff who are available during regular business hours. The Real Estate Fraud Unit’s telephone and fax numbers are (805) 662-1750 or fax (805) 662-1770. For the office location, click here.

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Sexual Assault

Investigators in the Sexual Assault Family Protection Unit work closely with prosecutors handling sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence cases. In most cases, once charges are filed, investigators and victim advocates are assigned to assist the attorneys as members of the prosecution team. Investigators work closely with attorneys to ensure all evidence is obtained and cases are properly prepared for trial. Significant time is spent with victims to prepare them for the trial process. Investigators receive specialized training in proper interviewing of child victims and special care is taken with them in all stages of the case. The unit’s investigators may also partner with local law enforcement agencies in investigations of potential criminal conduct before charges are evaluated by prosecutors. As a result, investigators become engaged in the earliest possible phase of these cases.

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Special Investigations

Created in 2008, the Special Investigations Unit serves the in-house investigative needs of the District Attorney’s Office. Investigators in the unit may conduct background investigations on prospective employees, investigations of citizen complaints involving members of the District Attorney’s Office, and internal administrative investigations. External investigations involving public corruption and organized crime, as determined by the District Attorney in consultation with the Bureau’s Chief Investigator, are also handled by this unit.

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Workers' Compensation Fraud

The Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit actively investigates and prosecutes crimes involving employees who knowingly make misrepresentations to obtain workers’ compensation benefits to which they are not entitled, or employers who knowingly deny valid workers’ compensation benefits to their employees. Employers and insurance companies that suspect fraudulent claims report cases to the Department of Insurance for investigation which refers cases to the unit’s prosecutors and investigators. Other cases are initiated from undercover investigations into workers’ compensation fraud mills involving unscrupulous attorneys, doctors, and insurance agents.
Workers’ compensation fraud causes honest employers to incur increased operating costs due to higher premiums in today’s challenging economic climate. This higher cost of doing business is passed directly to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Moreover, honest workers who are genuinely injured face delays in receiving benefits because of the closer scrutiny their claims receive. Workers’ compensation fraud prevents healthy economic growth and jeopardizes the integrity of the workers’ compensation system. The Workers' Compensation Fraud Unit accepts complaints directly from the public and the complaint form is available here, or may be obtained from the District Attorney's Office staff who are available during regular business hours. The Workers' Compensation Unit's telephone number is (805) 662-1750, or fax (805) 662-1770. For the office location, click here.

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