Not just a little early, either. Sebastian Dumbrava served just seven months of a 44-month sentence in California before he was released on probation, and in the months since he’s repeatedly found himself on the wrong end of the law with few consequences to show for it. Now Dumbrava is headed back to trial on new charges, but his case shows how fundamentally broken California is when it comes to its gun control laws and the criminal justice system.
Dumbrava’s saga with police and prosecutors dates back to March of 2019, when he was placed on an involuntary mental health hold after concerns that he was a danger to himself and others. Under California law, Dumbrava was not allowed to possess firearms after his release, but when police executed a search warrant on his home after threatening emails and online posts quoting the Virginia Tech killer were discovered in January of 2020 they found several firearms and about 1,200 rounds of ammunition. Dumbrava allegedly blamed school officials for the mental health hold, which he argued was responsible for his failure to be approved for a security clearance that would allow him to work for the federal government, and after the discovery of the guns and ammunition he was arrested.
First the Orange County D.A. had to fight to hold him behind bars before his trial, with Dumbrava arguing that he should be released without bond because of an emergency order to reduce the jail’s population during the COVID-19 pandemic. That appeal was rejected by a judge, however, and in March of 2021 Dumbrava was sentenced to up to 44 months in prison; they key phrase being “up to.”
Instead, after just seven months he was sent home, though the judge overseeing Dumbrava’s case said that he believed the man needs to be in a “mental institution where he can be restored to a place where he’s not a danger to people” and that the state is not giving him “the help he needs.”
Without any counseling but with orders to report to his probation officer and to wear an electronic monitoring device, Dumbrava was sent home. Shortly thereafter he reportedly ignored those conditions, again with few consequences.
Dumbrava violated the terms of his probation and continued to post threatening social media posts targeting UCI. Authorities executing a search warrant found evidence to allow prosecutors to charge Dumbrava with buying five high capacity magazines and illegally bringing them into California along with attempting to extort money from the University of California regents.
There has been an increasing level of seriousness connected to the social media posts that has made since being released from prison. Dumbrava has made reference via Twitter to the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in United States history, the 2017 Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting that left 58 dead. He has made reference to content related to Usama bin Ladin, an international terrorist leader who was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attack on the New York World Trade Center. He posted a quote from Timothy McVeigh, an American domestic terrorist responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of an FBI federal building.
Dumbrava has shown the ability to travel out of state and obtain firearms parts, ammunition, and magazines, despite being a prohibited person. Dumbrava via social media the malicious intent associated with the acquisition of these items. In a sworn declaration, a UCI police officer wrote the amount of ammunition loaded into large capacity magazines at his residence, as well as, the specific examples of mass casualty events posted by Dumbrava leads him to believe that “if Dumbrava were to commit an act of violence, the result would have multiple victims.”
Dumbrava has been charged with of felony count of sending a threatening letter for extortion, one felony count of attempted extortion by threat, and five felony counts of bringing a large capacity magazine illegally into California.
Dumbrava was arrested in January of 2022 after his ankle monitor died and he failed to show up for an appointment with his probation officer. While he was in custody authorities found the additional magazines and ammunition he’s not allowed to possess as a prohibited person, but despite new charges he was once again released just a few weeks later, only to be picked up again in March for skipping out on another probation appointment.
Since then Dumbrava’s been held in the Orange County Jail on $1-million bond, and his trial on seven felony charges, including at least one related to possessing “large capacity” magazines, is scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Dumbrava has pleaded not guilty to his current charges, and we’ll see what happens in court. If I were prosecutors, I wouldn’t be confident that charging him with illegal possession of a “large capacity” magazine is going to stick, given the new review of the state’s magazine ban ordered by the Supreme Court after it handed down the Bruen decision.
Even before the case begins, however, we can issue a verdict on California’s criminal justice and mental health systems, both of which appear to be fundamentally broken. Dumbrava served just seven months of what was supposed to be more than four years behind bars, and was subject only to probation when he was released even though the judge who oversaw his case believed he should be institutionalized until he no longer posed a danger to himself or others.
California is really good at passing laws that restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, but it’s an utter failure when it comes to dealing with individuals that the state itself declares are dangerous to themselves or others. No wonder so many people are getting out if they can. I don’t blame them a bit… I just hope they leave those politics behind at the border when they make their escape towards saner pastures.