Cesar Sayoc, who in March admitted to mailing more than one dozen bombs to prominent critics of Donald Trump prior to the 2018 midterm elections, was sentenced in New York to 20 years in prison on Monday.
Known as a fanatical Trump supporter, Sayoc, who was also reportedly a former bodybuilder and male exotic dancer. He sent 16 crude explosives to 13 intended victims across the US, prosecutors said.
None of the bombs, which prosecutors called “improvised explosive devices”, exploded.
Sayoc’s targets included former Democratic Party vice-president Joe Biden, Senator and Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker, former CIA director John Brennan, former National Intelligence director James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the New York offices of cable news network CNN, actor Robert De Niro, Democratic Senator and 2020 candidate Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former US president Barack Obama, billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, Democrat presidential candidate Tom Steyer, and US Congresswoman Maxine Walters.
“Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded,” federal prosecutors in Manhattan said. “Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red ‘X.’”
Sayoc pleaded guilty to 65 counts: 16 counts of using a weapon of mass destruction, 16 counts of interstate transportation of an explosive device, 16 counts of conveying a threat in interstate commerce, 16 counts of the illegal mailing of explosives with the intent to kill or injure another, and one count of using an explosive to commit a felony.
The first of Sayoc’s bombs was found in 22 October 2018, in a mailbox at Soros’s New York home. A bomb addressed to Bill and Hillary Clinton was found on 23 October. On 24 October, still more bombs were discovered at the offices or homes of top Democrats.
Authorities traced the parcels to south Florida. They arrested him in late October. At the time of Sayoc’s arrest, he was living in a van that was covered with images of Trump and vice-president Mike Pence. There were also images of Trump’s opponents showing them with crosshairs on their faces.
When Sayoc entered his plea, he told the judge, “I’m extremely sorry.”
Asked by Manhattan federal court judge Jed Rakoff whether he meant for the devices to explode, Sayoc said: “No, sir.”
Sayoc, 57, claimed during his plea proceeding this spring that the objects contained explosive powder from fireworks and were made to look like pipe bombs.
Rakoff asked what would keep the fireworks powder from exploding.
“I was aware of the risk they would explode,” Sayoc replied.