A man accused in now debunked July 4 mass shooting plot pleads guilty to gun crime

Posted at 5:16 PM, Oct 04, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- The man initially named as one of two suspects in the now-debunked July 4 Richmond mass shooting plot was convicted on gun charges on Wednesday.

Julio Cesar Alvarado Dubon offered a conditional guilty plea in federal court in Richmond to one count of possessing a firearm by someone in the country illegally.

In July 2022, former Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Dubon and Rolman Balcarcel-Bavagas had been arrested for plotting a mass shooting in Richmond on July 4. Smith later identified the city's large Independence Day celebration at Dogwood Dell as the intended target.

Police arrested Dubon, a Guatemalan in Richmond on an expired via, after he let officers into his Richmond home where they found multiple guns.

However, neither man ever faced charges related to a shooting plot and both cases moved from Richmond court to federal court.

Balcarcel-Bavagas was sentenced in November to 5.5-months in prison for illegal re-entry in the United States.

While Dubon faces up to 15 years in prison, CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said accepting guilt could result in a lower sentence.

Julio Cesar Alvarado-Dubon
Julio Cesar Alvarado-Dubon during a previous court case in Richmond, Va.

"A defendant in the federal system gets a benefit at sentencing by pleading guilty again, accepting responsibility," Stone said. "So Mr. Dubon is essentially saying, I committed the offense. I'm pleading guilty. I possessed a firearm illegally."

In September 2022, Dubon’s attorney filed a motion, alleging that the officers unlawfully searched his client’s house and argued that the evidence gathered, specifically the guns and ammunition, should be suppressed. The judge in this case disagreed.

As part of Dubon's conditional plea he will be allowed to appeal the judge's ruling to a higher court.

Even if successful, Stone said Dubon still faces potential deportation.

"If the Court of Appeals reverses this case, and he gets it wiped away completely and found not guilty, they're still going to deport them," Stone said. "And the only exception to that is the case of asylum where you know, which doesn't happen very often. It's pretty rare."

Dubon is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2024.

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