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Suspected Charlottesville bike thief's no-jail plea deal gets nixed

More than a year after police raided his yard and found dozens of stolen bicycles, Joe Abel Arevalo submitted his first guilty plea Thursday, a deal that would have spared him all jail time. It was, however, rejected by a judge.

“The court will not accept his plea agreement,” said Charlottesville Circuit Judge Claude Worrell.

Worrell did not explain his reasoning.

But that was far from the most unusual moment in court that day. The hearing included several unusual moments, including prosecution confusion and unanswered questions about how much stolen property was actually found. Arevalo, a self-employed electrician whose court file suggests that he has used an alias, at one point told the court he had forgotten his own age.

“How old are you?” asked Worrell.

“40,” Arevalo replied.

“Is this right?” said Worrell. “You should be 41.”

“Almost 41,” said Arevalo.

“According to this,” said Worrell, examining the man’s date of birth, “you should already be 41.”

“I thought I was a year younger,” said Arevalo. “I apologize.”

That dialogue came moments after the prosecutor revealed that she thought she was prosecuting a theft that occurred Aug. 10, 2022. Alas, that case involved stolen electrical conduits and was dismissed in November.

Thursday’s guilty plea revolved around a Yeti SB100 bicycle rolled away from a medical student’s garage 11 days after the conduit theft. The aspiring doctor told The Daily Progress that a thief shot a middle finger at his security camera before walking away with the $5,000 vehicle.

The medical student ultimately tracked down his missing ride using an Apple AirTag.

The rejected plea deal would have given Arevalo a five-year sentence with all time suspended plus a year of probation and a five-year demand for good behavior.

Nina-Alice Antony, Charlottesville’s senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said the sentence fell within the guidelines for someone who accepts responsibility, and she noted that Arevalo had helpfully waived his right to a preliminary hearing. She also told the court that it was her understanding that Arevalo was likely to get active jail time upon a plan to plead guilty to a similar charge in Albemarle County.

“I understand he’s receiving a 90-day active jail sentence,” she told the judge.

Additionally, Antony said that the Charlottesville prosecutor’s office prefers alternatives to jail for nonviolent offenders, which she said Arevalo was.

However, Arevalo was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery in March for spraying his daughter with a pressure washer. Additionally, Charlottesville General District Court records show that in November Arevalo was convicted of trespassing for going uninvited into a woman’s apartment.

When Arevalo first made headlines last year, it was after police reported they had to rent a storage container in order to hold all of the stolen equipment they had found at Arevalo’s Reservoir Road residence. The haul included electric bicycles, kids’ bicycles and multiple bicycles valued at several thousand dollars each. One local bicycle shop manager estimated that Arevalo had amassed at least $60,000 worth of equipment.

“Those were returned as best as could be,” Antony told the court.

The judge Thursday seemed curious about the level of loot.

“What were the number of things,” Worrell asked, “that were in his possession that were returned to other people?”

Antony answered that she didn’t know.

While the search warrant inventory counted 327 items, Antony didn’t dispute the defense attorney’s assertion that some of the seized goods belonged to Arevalo. However, many did not.

Worrell kept pressing for answers about the trove’s magnitude.

“How many potential victims were identified?” asked Worrell. “I’m trying to get a sense of scale.”

“There were a lot of things found on the property,” answered defense attorney Jessica Phillips. “It was a lot of items.”

It was at that moment that Worrell rejected the plea agreement.

Arevalo’s Charlottesville case will now be heard by a different judge, but no date for another hearing has yet been set.

Arevalo was next slated to head to Albemarle Circuit Court. There he faces a single charge of receiving stolen property, a Ditch Witch trenching machine atop a Hudson Trailer.

While a conviction can carry a term up to 20 years, this is the charge reportedly slated for a 90-day jail sentence, and any sentence will ultimately depend on what an Albemarle judge decides. Arevalo remains free on a $5,000 secured bail.


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