The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office is the public prosecutor for the county’s 850,000 residents. The office employs approximately 300 employees including attorneys, investigators, victim advocates, and professional support staff who strive to seek justice, ensure public safety, and protect the rights of crime victims.
We are committed to public safety, the pursuit of truth and justice, to ensuring victims are protected, and our communities are served with fairness and integrity.
Erik Nasarenko was elected Ventura County District Attorney on June 7, 2022. As the County’s top prosecutor overseeing a $66 million budget and 300 employees, including more than 100 deputy district attorneys, Erik has initiated specialized efforts to prosecute fentanyl-based crimes, analyze untested rape kits, and expand support and services to crime victims, including the creation of the Carmen Ramirez Family Justice Center in Oxnard. Erik has also established a Mental Health Unit within the office, a team of four prosecutors with unique training and expertise in civil commitment proceedings and treatment-based opportunities, such as mental health diversion and veterans court.
Prior to becoming the District Attorney, Erik served and protected Ventura County as a senior prosecutor, where he secured jury trial convictions against defendants for child molestation, rape, kidnapping and murder. In 2016, he was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Ventura County District Attorney for his trial advocacy on behalf of children, women, and sexual assault survivors. His prosecutorial efforts have resulted in multiple convictions of life imprisonment against some of Ventura County’s worst sexual predators.
Erik previously served as Mayor of Ventura and as a city councilmember for seven years. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Erik grew up in the San Fernando Valley and attended the University of California, Irvine, where he studied history and played intercollegiate soccer. He attended Loyola Law School at night while working during the day.
Lisa Okinaka Lyytikainen
Chief Assistant District Attorney
Ms. Lyytikainen joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in 1996. She began her career prosecuting misdemeanor cases. She then moved to assignments in the general felonies, gang crimes, domestic violence, and sexual assault units. From 2002 to 2004, she supervised the Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse units and was a member of the California District Attorney’s Association Sexual Assault committee, as well as the Ventura County Sexual Assault task force. In 2005, Ms. Lyytikainen returned to trial work where she again focused on sexual assault crimes and child abuse cases.
In 2007, Ms. Lyytikainen joined the Writs, Appeals and Training Unit where she handled cases in Superior Court, Federal Court, the Court of Appeal, and successfully argued before the California Supreme Court in the matter of People v. Calvin Sharp. In this assignment she was also responsible for the office’s continuing education, new attorney and post-bar law clerk training programs. In addition to training internal staff, Ms. Lyytikainen became a POST certified basic academy instructor. She was a regular instructor for the Ventura Criminal Justice Training Center beginning in 2007, where she taught Evidence, Search and Seizure and Courtroom Demeanor to hundreds of law enforcement recruits. She served in this capacity until February 2021.
Ms. Lyytikainen was named to the prosecution Team of the Year in 2012 for her appellate work during the prosecution of Calvin Sharp for the brutal murder of a six-year-old boy. In 2016, she was named Prosecutor of the Year for her leadership in both the office and the courtroom.
In February 2021, Ms. Lyytikainen was appointed Chief Assistant District Attorney. In this role, she oversees the daily operations of the office and serves as second-in-command to the District Attorney.
Ms. Lyytikainen received her undergraduate degree in 1988 from the University of Southern California, her Juris Doctorate degree in 1995 and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2021.
Rachelle Helm Dean
Chief Deputy District Attorney
Rachelle Dean received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University, Fresno in 1997, and her Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law in 2000.
Ms. Dean first joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office as a law clerk in 1999 while attending law school. She returned to the District Attorney’s Office in 2000 as a Post-bar Law Clerk, and upon admission to the California State Bar, began working as a Deputy District Attorney.
Ms. Dean has served as a trial attorney in the Misdemeanor Unit, Sexual Assault Family Protection Unit, General Felony Unit, and Major Narcotics Unit. Ms. Dean has also supervised the Juvenile Prosecutions Unit, Misdemeanor Unit, General Felony Unit, and Court Operations Unit.
Recognizing that the criminal process is often long and challenging to victims, Ms. Dean has sought ways to improve the process. A life-long dog lover, she initiated the Courthouse Facility Dog Program for this office in June 2020. The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office facility dogs, Star, Trakr, and Comet, provide support to victims and witnesses of the criminal justice system by assisting prosecutors in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.
In April 2021, Ms. Dean was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney of Justice Services. In this role, she oversees the Writs, Appeals, & Training Unit, Conviction Integrity Unit, Mental Health Unit, Misdemeanor Unit, Court Operations Unit, and Digital Media Unit.
Kevin B. Drescher
Chief Deputy District Attorney
Kevin Drescher is a sixth-generation Californian, born and raised in Ventura. Mr. Drescher received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Thematic Minor in “Mexico Today” from Colorado College in 1991. At Colorado College he was a two-time Team Captain and MVP of the baseball team. In 1994, he received his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar. He was subsequently admitted to the Colorado State Bar in 1997.
Mr. Drescher joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in 1994 and has been assigned to misdemeanors; domestic violence cases; writs, appeals and training; major crimes; general felonies, serious and violent, and auto insurance fraud. Mr. Drescher handled and tried some of the most serious cases in the office, from capital murder to vehicular manslaughter. In 2000, he was promoted to the position of Senior Attorney. In 2007, he was presented with the Ellie Liston Crime Victims Assistance Award. In April 2008, Mr. Drescher was promoted to Supervising Senior Deputy District Attorney. He has supervised the Major Fraud Unit, the General Felony Unit, and the Court Operations Unit.
Mr. Drescher was promoted to Chief Deputy District Attorney in August 2019. He oversees Special Prosecutions, which handles a variety of offenses including insurance fraud, high-tech and real estate fraud, asset forfeiture, child abduction and recovery, consumer and environmental protection, as well as the Juvenile Unit.
Michael R. Jump
Chief Deputy District Attorney
Michael Jump earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1993, a Master’s in Environmental Science and Juris Doctorate from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1998. In 1998, Mr. Jump accepted a land & resources attorney position, assisting Alaska Natives with resources planning, management and dispute resolution.
In 2000, Mr. Jump joined the District Attorney’s Office as a grant writer, securing tens of millions of dollars in competitive grants for the District Attorney’s Office and helping to establish the Safe Harbor multidisciplinary interview centers, which provide trauma-informed forensic medico-legal exams to sexual assault and child abuse victims. In 2003, Mr. Jump was sworn in as a Deputy District Attorney and served as a trial prosecutor conducting numerous preliminary hearings, misdemeanor, felony, and serious and violent felony trials.
Mr. Jump served as Director of the office’s Fiscal, Administrative and Legislative Services operations from 2006 to 2015, combining his legal and administrative skills to manage the District Attorney’s budgetary, contractual, human resources, personnel, facilities, and legislative matters.
Mr. Jump was appointed Chief Deputy District Attorney of Victim and Community Services in 2015. In this role, Mr. Jump led the development of the first-ever Family Justice Center in Ventura County and oversees the Office’s Crime Victims’ Assistance Program, the Safe Harbor multidisciplinary interview centers, and Camp HOPE, which collectively provide nearly 20,000 services to crime victims each year. The Family Justice Center is a multi-agency partnership between local government and community-based organizations integrating services at one location for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, dependent adult abuse and human trafficking.
Mr. Jump currently serves as a board member of the California Crime Victims’ Assistance Association, is chair of numerous local committees, and a member of the Community Corrections Partnership–Ventura County, representing victims’ rights and interests.
Chief Deputy District Attorney
Paul Nuñez graduated from Stanford University in 1992 and earned his Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law in 1995.
Upon admittance to the California State Bar, Mr. Nuñez joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. While there, he held management positions in the Hardcore Gang Division and in the East Los Angeles office. In the gang division, Mr. Nuñez oversaw a team of trial attorneys handling murder prosecutions.
As a trial attorney, Mr. Nuñez has prosecuted gang members in special circumstance murder cases and tried 26 homicides to verdict. He also served in the Justice System Integrity Division and was a member of the officer-involved shooting response team. In 2012, Mr. Nuñez successfully prosecuted People v. Stephanie Lazarus, a 1986 cold case murder.
In April 2021, Mr. Nuñez joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office as Chief Deputy District Attorney of the Criminal Prosecutions Division. Mr. Nuñez oversees several units including General Felonies, Homicides, Gangs, Narcotics, and Public Integrity. He represents the office as vice-chair of the County’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
Chief Deputy District Attorney
Miles Weiss joined the office in 1994 after graduating from the University of San Diego, School of Law. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1989.
As a trial attorney, Mr. Weiss prosecuted a variety of cases, including DUI, general felonies, violent sex crimes and gang crimes. As a Senior Deputy District Attorney, Mr. Weiss has served as supervisor of the Sexual Assault/Family Protection Unit and the Juvenile Prosecution Unit. He has also been assigned to the Major Crimes Unit where he tried homicide cases.
At the direction of the District Attorney in 2005, Mr. Weiss implemented Ventura County’s Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Program. This program serves as a statewide model and has received grants totaling more than $2 million to combat real estate fraud on behalf of victims. Mr. Weiss is a founding member of the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team (REFAT), a non-profit group of industry professionals that collaborates to reduce real estate fraud in their communities.
In 2012, Mr. Weiss was promoted to Chief Deputy District Attorney of the Special Prosecutions Division, and in 2017, the Criminal Prosecutions Division where his duties included oversight of the Major Crimes Unit which prosecutes gang, narcotics, and murder cases. In his current position as Chief Deputy District Attorney of the General Prosecutions Division, Mr. Weiss oversees the Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Legal Support Units.
Scott Whitney joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office on September 13, 2022, to lead the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. He previously served as police chief of Oxnard, Ventura County’s largest city, where he was a champion of community policing and neighborhood engagement. A Ventura County native who graduated from Oxnard High School, Chief Whitney attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship. As a scholar athlete, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance and Accounting. He holds a Master of Public Administration from California State University Northridge.
In addition to serving as police chief from 2016 to 2020, Chief Whitney has a long track record of public service to Oxnard and its residents, including leadership roles as an assistant city manager and an interim city manager, where he oversaw complex budgets and managed multiple city departments. His nearly five years as police chief were marked by significant reductions in crime, and new partnerships with community organizations, including neighborhood councils, faith-based groups, and school officials.
In his 31 years with the Oxnard Police Department, Chief Whitney served in a wide array of leadership roles. He led all three department bureaus, including Investigations, Administration and Patrol Services. As a commander, he ran the Special Operations Division, which included the SWAT Team, the Violent Crimes Task Force, the Special Enforcement Unit, as well as the K9 Unit and Firearms Training. Whitney was an advocate for vulnerable populations and was instrumental in initiating programs to de-escalate police-civilian encounters. He was one of the founders of the Ventura County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).
The Bureau of Investigation has 57 sworn peace officers and 12 civilian personnel that serve within three divisions. The Major Crimes Division provides investigative support for prosecutors before and during jury trials. The Major Fraud Division has specially trained investigators that conduct complex financial crimes investigations, including fraud and money laundering. The Administrative Division includes investigators that provide highly technical, forensic technology services for all Ventura County law enforcement agencies.
Special Assistant District Attorney
Chuck Hughes earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in 1988 and his Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law in 1991. Mr. Hughes first practiced as a civil litigator, then began his career as a prosecutor in January 1994 with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. He joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in January 2011.
In more than 25 years as a prosecutor, Mr. Hughes has handled a wide variety of cases, including felony trials, drug trafficking, sex crimes, and murders.
In 2005, Mr. Hughes moved into management at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and, after joining the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, became a manager in April 2012. Recently, Mr. Hughes was assigned to lead the Fiscal, Administrative & Legislative Services Division, which includes oversight of human resources, budgeting, grants administration, facilities, information technology, and state and federal legislation.
For five years, Chuck also taught Trial Practice at the California Southern School of Law.
|Major Crimes||Tom Dunlevy||Supervising Attorney||805-654-3781|
|Court Operations||Andrew Sullivant||Supervising Attorney||805-654-3080|
|General Trials||Rafael Orellana||Supervising Attorney||805-654-2716|
|Sexual Assault / Elder Abuse||Melissa Suttner||Supervising Attorney||805-654-3978|
|Domestic Violence / Family Protection||Erin Meister||Supervising Attorney||805-654-3907|
|Misdemeanors||Blake Heller||Supervising Attorney||805-654-3072|
|Workers Compensation Fraud • Auto Insurance Fraud • |
Major Fraud • Consumer & Environmental Protection •
Asset Forfeiture • Code Enforcement • Fish & Game
|Chris Harman||Supervising Attorney||805-662-1703|
|Child Abduction & Recovery||Kathy LaSalle||Senior Attorney||805-662-1712|
|Juvenile||Maureen Byrne||Supervising Attorney||805-981-5861|
|Consumer Mediation • Small Claims • NSF Checks||805-654-3110|
|Bureau of Investigation|
|Criminal Operations||Chris Brackpool||Commander||805-477-1642|
|Government Fraud||Christopher Borkovec||Commander||805-477-1647|
|Major Fraud||Tracy Towner||Commander||805-662-1751|
|Special Investigations||Christopher Borkovec||Commander||805-477-1647|
|Special Prosecutions||Tracy Towner||Commander||805-662-1751|
|Fiscal & Administrative Services||Chuck Hughes||Special Assistant||805-477-1635|
|Human Resources||Terri Anderson||Director||805-477-1680|
|Information Technology||Gene Mecagni||Director||805-654-5199|
|Legal Support Services||Marlena Tovar||Director||805-654-3005|
|Writs, Appeals & Training||Rachelle Dean||Chief Deputy||805-654-2719|
|Conviction Integrity||Rachelle Dean||Chief Deputy||805-654-2719|
|Victim & Community Services|
|Crime Victims’ Assistance||Dina Zuhric||Supervisor||805-654-2776|