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Man named in July 4 plot sentenced on immigration charge

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Guatemalan immigrant who was identified by Richmond police as one of two suspects in a potential July 4 mass shooting plot has been sentenced to 5 1/2 months in prison for reentering the U.S. after deportation.

Rolman Balcarcel-Bavagas, 38, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to the charge in August. He does not face any charges related to the alleged mass shooting plot.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Judge Hannah Lauck said during the sentencing hearing that it would be legally inappropriate for her to take into account that “there were some very serious firearms” recovered by police in the house where Balcarcel-Bavagas was living because there was no evidence tying him to the weapons. His housemate, Julio Alvarado Dubon, 52, has been charged with illegally possessing two AR-15-style rifles and a semiautomatic pistol that were discovered in his room during a search.

Prosecutors said Balcarcel-Bavagas illegally entered the U.S. three times and had been deported twice before. Balcarcel-Bavagas will be deported to Guatemala after serving his term.

During a July 6 press conference, former Richmond police Chief Gerald Smith said Balcarcel-Bavagas and Dubon had been planning a mass shooting at a Fourth of July gathering at the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater. But prosecutors ultimately determined there was no evidence to prosecute the two men on charges related to such an event.

In court documents filed last month, federal prosecutors said they lack evidence to prove Balcarcel-Bavagas was part of a mass shooting plot, but added that law enforcement acted “lawfully and appropriately” when investigating a tip from a concerned citizen about a potential mass shooting.

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