Date: September 28, 2017


SANTA ANA, Calif. – Deputy District Attorneys Bradley Schoenleben and Daniel Varon of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) were chosen as the recipients of the 2017 “Prosecutor of the Year” award from the California District Attorney Investigators’ Association (CDAIA) for their extensive work combating human trafficking and exploitation in Orange County. The award was presented at the CDAIA Annual Conference Awards Banquet on Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2017, at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

Each year, CDAIA recognizes individuals whose outstanding ability, professional dedication, and personal sacrifice merit the respect and admiration of prosecutors statewide. OCDA prosecutors Schoenleben and Varon were recognized for their exemplary job performance, teamwork, and integrity in the pursuit of justice within the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit.

Upon graduation from Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law, Schoenleben joined the OCDA in 2007. He has been an invaluable member of the HEAT Unit since its inception and currently conducts nationwide trainings on human exploitation and trafficking for other district attorneys’ offices, non-profit organizations, and law enforcement agencies. Deputy District Attorney Schoenleben stated, “We can only help so many victims with our resources as prosecutors, but when we work together with other agencies, we’re a force to be reckoned with.” He continued, “It is encouraging to see that people do care about this topic and it is an honor to receive this award.”

Varon earned his juris doctorate from Southwestern Law School, where he served on the Board of the Interscholastic Trial Advocacy Program. Varon joined the OCDA in 2007 and has been a dedicated and integral member of the HEAT Unit since its inception in 2013. In addition to prosecuting cases, Varon conducts statewide trainings on human exploitation and trafficking and is actively involved in seeking legislative changes on behalf of the OCDA. At the awards ceremony, Deputy District Attorney Varon commented, “It has been the honor of a lifetime to work alongside such an incredible team of lawyers, police officers, and victim service providers in pursuing fair and just verdicts for those who seek to do so much harm to the most vulnerable among us."

The HEAT Unit was established by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas in 2013 to target perpetrators who sexually exploit and traffic women and underage girls for financial gain, including pimps, panderers, and human traffickers. Schoenleben and Varon, along with four additional deputy district attorneys, dedicate their time to aggressively prosecute these unique and complex cases. To date, the OCDA HEAT Unit has obtained over 234 felony convictions, 223 prison sentences (including six life sentences), and currently has an active caseload of over 116 cases.

“Congratulations are well deserved for both Brad and Dan,” said OCDA Tony Rackauckas. “Well beyond the conviction, these prosecutors work tirelessly to provide resources and help human trafficking victims get on their feet and improve their lives. It’s due to Brad, Dan, and everyone in the HEAT Unit that our office has been deemed the ‘best practice model’ by several Congressmen who are dedicated to combatting human trafficking in their districts,” concluded Rackauckas.