VENTURA, Calif. – The District Attorney’s Office is warning Ventura County residents about emerging trends in fraud schemes that coincide with fast-moving technological advances. Several trends include synthetic identity theft, deepfakes, account fraud takeover, cryptocurrency scams, and insider threats. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) says 2024 is on pace to be another busy year when combating emerging fraud trends. Having knowledge about these new scams and frauds can be your best defense from becoming a victim.

VENTURA, Calif. – District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Quest Diagnostics, Inc., a national Fortune 500 diagnostic testing company, settled a multi-jurisdictional civil lawsuit involving the offices of California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the District Attorneys of Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Ventura, and Yolo Counties. The lawsuit resolved allegations that Quest Diagnostics engaged in unlawful business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code 17200. The corporation unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste, medical waste, and protected health information at its facilities statewide, in violation of the Hazardous Waste Control Law, Medical Waste Management Act, and civil laws prohibiting the unauthorized disclosure of personal health information.

VENTURA, Calif. – District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that, after an 18-day trial, Erick Estrada (DOB 08/31/88) was convicted by a jury of the first-degree murder of Gabriel Gutierrez. Estrada was also convicted for the attempted murder and assault with a firearm of both Michael Owens and Thomas Bakkila. Special allegations related to the murder conviction, the attempted murder convictions, and the assault with a firearm convictions were also found true. Regarding the murder of Mr. Gutierrez, the special allegations that Estrada committed the murder while lying in wait, and that he intentionally discharged a firearm were found to be true. Aggravating factors that the crime involved great violence and that Estrada used a weapon were also found to be true.

VENTURA, Calif. – Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Osvaldo Hernandez (DOB 05/22/99), of Oxnard, was sentenced to 32 years 8 months to life in prison for the murder of Robert De La Cerda and for committing robberies. He previously pled guilty November 16, 2023, to one count of second-degree murder, one count of attempted robbery, three counts of robbery, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Hernandez also admitted special allegations, including that he personally used a firearm in the murder of Mr. De La Cerda.

Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Hugo Quebrado (DOB 02/04/01), of Oxnard, appeared for arraignment on February 8, 2024, in the Ventura County Superior Court on one felony count of murder, with a special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing the victim’s death, and one count of possessing a firearm as a prohibited person.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is proud to announce our partnership with Childhood Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mental health and well-being of children and youth. This new partnership will include on-site services at the Ventura County Family Justice Center. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in addressing the mental health needs of children and families in our community.

In response to the emerging rise of AI-generated child sexual abuse material (CSAM), Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko has teamed up with California Assemblymember Marc Berman, who recently introduced Assembly Bill 1831. The new legislation aims to address the escalating threat posed by artificial intelligence (AI) in the creation of lifelike, illicit content involving children. CSAM refers to visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct involving minors.

District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Victor Manuel Avalos, Jr. (DOB 03/06/03), of Oxnard, was charged on January 23, 2024, with 10 felony counts related to alleged human trafficking and child exploitation. The charges include three counts of unlawful act with a child 10 years old or younger, three counts of forcible lewd act upon a child, causing a minor to engage in commercial sex acts, advertising child sexual assault material (CSAM) for sale, and possessing CSAM. Each count also carries a special allegation that Avalos, Jr. took advantage of a position of trust or confidence to commit the offense. His arraignment was continued.

District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Vidal Vargas Morales (DOB 12/30/60), of Fillmore, was sentenced on January 23, 2024, to two years state prison and is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code section 290. Morales was previously convicted on December 12, 2023, of one felony count of lewd act upon a child who was 15 years old. The special allegation that he took advantage of a position of trust and confidence to commit the offense was also found true by the court.

Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced today that Euren Balbuena (DOB 11/29/90), of Simi Valley, was sentenced on January 17, 2024, to 33 years to life in prison for three felony convictions, including the murder of girlfriend Zaira Patino-Trejo. Balbuena was previously convicted by a jury on November 21, 2023, of the first-degree murder of Patino-Trejo, battery causing great bodily injury, and assault with a deadly weapon against her mother. The jury also found two special allegations to be true, that Balbuena personally used a knife in the killing and caused great bodily injury in commission of a felony.