For alleged bomber, truth bendable
Reality of Sayoc’s past unclear amid boast after boast that prove false
Cesar Sayoc’s life seems to have been defined by boastful exaggeration and false bravado – with one big exception.
Sayoc, 56, now stands accused of doing something very real: mailing pipe bombs to more than a dozen political figures, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have been critical of President Donald Trump.
But up until his arrest Friday outside an auto parts store in Plantation, Florida, Sayoc would have been a man difficult to pin down.
While his sticker-strewn white van and frequent social media posts proclaimed a fierce allegiance to Trump and a disdain for the president’s critics, Sayoc’s personal life was anchored to his jobs working at strip clubs and a slew of financial troubles that resulted in his living in his vehicle.
It was during a 2014 deposition in a lawsuit filed by a DJ at Stir Crazy Showgirls, an adult entertainment club and restaurant in Pinecrest, Florida, over back pay that Sayoc’s penchant for exaggeration shined.
Sayoc, who was there to discuss the payment structure at the club, said his mother was mayor of Aventura, Florida. However, Enid Weisman, the current mayor of the suburb in Miami-Dade County, confirmed his mother was never the mayor of the town.
Sayoc said, “I have had road shows, Chippendales, we are the world famous, number one Chippendales,” a reference to perhaps managing a troupe of male strippers. But Chippendales spokesman Michael Caprio said Friday that Sayoc “has never been affiliated in any way with Chippendales.”
Later, the lawyer asked: “Tell me about how you made $13 million for a club?”
Sayoc blustered: “When you do $8,000 from your own room and then all your security guys that run the lap dances, the $5 per dance, we did 13 million in lap dances ... that’s how.”
Sayoc’s self-aggrandizing descriptions mostly hewed toward an effort to make him out to be someone he was not.
While Sayoc did play soccer in high school and in college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, his claim that he played for European powerhouse A.C. Milan could not be confirmed.
He also said he had worked as a loss prevention specialist at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida, two days a week. Owners of the casino said in a statement that he had never worked there.
Describing himself on his LinkedIn page as a “promoter, booking agent Live entertainment, owner, choreographer,” Sayoc told lawyers at the deposition that he was “the best at this business. … There’s nobody better.”
But he lost his house through foreclosure during the housing crisis a decade ago and ended up living in his van. He filed for personal bankruptcy in 2012 and collected unemployment in 2009, 2010 and 2012, according to the bankruptcy filing.
Many of Sayoc’s social media posts suggested he was a Seminole Indian, working for a spell at the Seminole owned casino in South Florida and even registering a business as Native American Catering & Vending.
In a statement Friday that suggested even Sayoc’s name was a mystery, Gary Bitner of the Seminole Tribe of Florida said he found “no evidence that Cesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri, Caesar Altieri Sayoc, Ceasar Altieri Randazzo (Facebook) or Julus Cesar Milan (Twitter) is or was a member or employee” of the tribe.
But for all the fog swirling around Sayoc’s life, his political beliefs were crystal clear.
Although Facebook and later Twitter disabled Sayoc’s accounts Friday afternoon, his activity on the social media sites showed a man who was passionate about Trump’s presidency – he posted many photos and videos from Trump rallies, the frequent bodybuilder often flexing his imposing biceps – and threatening any Trump detractors. Offline, he covered his van in images of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, among other images, including a sign that read, “CNN SUCKS.”
Two weeks before Sayoc is suspected of mailing his 14 pipe bombs, political commentator Rochelle Ritchie says she complained to Twitter about threats he made against her, including menacing messages and disturbing images such as alligators and human body parts, after one of her appearances on Fox News.
One of the tweets from his account, which Twitter took down Friday, read: “We will see you 4 sure. Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave you home.”
Sayoc also is linked to Twitter accounts vilifying Democrats, particularly liberal donor George Soros, who received one of the pipe bomb packages, and Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum.
Recent activity in what appears to be two social media accounts belonging to Sayoc paint a picture of a staunch supporter of both Trump and Ron DeSantis, the GOP nominee for governor who the president has endorsed, as well as Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Other posts criticize the Clintons and accuse David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting this year, of working with Soros.
Scott Meigs, 52, of West Palm Beach, said he worked alongside Sayoc for two decades at strip clubs all over South Florida and said his colleague had never uttered a word about politics – until about a month ago.
That’s when Meigs said Sayoc began peppering him with text messages about how Republicans needed to win the midterm elections, the Florida governor’s race and Florida’s Senate race.
“He started talking politics nonstop,” Meigs said.
Sayoc was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1963. His father, Ceasar Sayoc, was born in 1932 and immigrated from the Philippines. In 1956, he applied to become a U.S. citizen, when he was living in Seattle, according to documents found on Ancestry.com. Sayoc’s mother, Madeline Altieri, was from New York.
Well before federal authorities charged Sayoc with five federal crimes over the bombs, he had his share of runins with police.
In 2002, Sayoc was charged with threatening to “throw, project, place, or discharge any destructive device,” according to online court records from Miami-Dade County.
Sayoc told lawyers in the 2014 deposition that he was arrested for calling in a bomb threat over unpaid deposits from the dry cleaners he claimed to have owned. “Then the bomb squad showed up to my store and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me, you know,’ ” he said.