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Press Release

Raleigh Man Sentenced to 85 Months for Setting Fire to Businesses During Downtown Riots

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

NEW BERN, N.C. – Richard Rubalacava was sentenced today in federal court to 85 months in prison for maliciously damaging several downtown businesses by fire.  On March 23, 2021, he pled guilty to setting fire to the Dollar General Express store on East Davie Street. 

According to court documents and other information presented in court, Rubalacava, age 27, joined the riotous crowds following the May 30, 2020 civil protest over George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Rubalacava was captured on video entering the Dollar General several times, stealing merchandise and setting fire to miscellaneous items.  The sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but the damage was extensive.  Rubalacava was also ordered to pay restitution to Dollar General in the amount of $354,379.22. 

Rubalacava had also been charged with setting a fire inside the Budacai Restaurant on East Martin Street.  He further admitted to vandalizing the Red Hat building with other rioters on the same evening.   

Michael F. Easley, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Raleigh Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel W. Smith and Susan B. Menzer prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-CR-00341-FL.

Updated December 16, 2021

Violent Crime