• Cousin calls bomb sus­pect a ‘loner’ and a ‘lu­natic’,

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Front Page - BY MICHAEL BIESECKER AND STEPHEN BRAUN

The Florida man charged with send­ing more than a dozen pack­age bombs to Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal fig­ures is de­scribed as a trou­bled loner who showed lit­tle in­ter­est in pol­i­tics be­fore the rise of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Ce­sar Sayoc, 56, of Aven­tura, has been an am­a­teur body builder and male strip­per. He has a his­tory of fi­nan­cial prob­lems and ex­ten­sive record of past ar­rests, in­clud­ing a stint served on pro­ba­tion for mak­ing a bomb threat. He was born in New York City and at­tended col­lege in North Carolina be­fore mov­ing to the Mi­ami sub­urbs in the late 1980s.

Florida voter records show he first reg­is­tered in March 2016 as a Repub­li­can and cast a bal­lot in that Novem­ber’s heated pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Sayoc’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts are pep­pered with memes sup­port­ing Trump, den­i­grat­ing Democrats, and pro­mot­ing con­spir­acy the­o­ries about Ge­orge Soros, the bil­lion­aire po­lit­i­cal donor who was the first tar­geted this week by a pack­age bomb.

At the auto parts store in Plan­ta­tion, Florida, where Sayoc was ar­rested Fri­day, author­i­ties towed away a white van cov­ered with stick­ers sup­port­ing Trump and crit­i­ciz­ing me­dia out­lets that in­cluded CNN, the news chan­nel also tar­geted by a mail bomb this week.

“I know the guy is a lu­natic,” said Lenny Altieri, Sayoc’s cousin, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day. “He has been a loner.” He con­firmed that Sayoc had been a strip­per.

Court records in Florida show that Sayoc was ar­rested in

2002 and served a year of pro­ba­tion for a felony charge of threat­en­ing to throw or place a bomb. Court records avail­able on­line did not im­me­di­ately pro­vide fur­ther de­tails about the case, but his lawyer in the case told The As­so­ci­ated Press the case in­volved a heated con­ver­sa­tion with a Florida util­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Ron­ald Lowy, a Mi­ami at­tor­ney, said Sayoc be­came frus­trated about a lack of ser­vice and told a Florida Power and Light em­ployee “some­thing to the ef­fect that you’re not tak­ing care of my prob­lem and I bet you would if I threw a bomb at you.” Lowy said Sayoc showed no abil­ity at the time to back up his threat with any bomb-mak­ing ex­per­tise.

The lawyer went on to de­scribe Sayoc as “a con­fused man who had trou­ble con­trol­ling his emo­tions.”

Lowy said Sayoc dis­played no po­lit­i­cal lean­ings at the time ex­cept for plas­ter­ing a ve­hi­cle he owned with Na­tive Amer­i­can signs. Lowy said Sayoc told him his fa­ther was Na­tive Amer­i­can.

Sayoc was also con­victed in 2014 for grand theft and mis­de­meanor theft of less than $300, and in 2013 for bat­tery. In 2004, he faced sev­eral felony charges for un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a syn­thetic an­abolic steroid of­ten used to help build mus­cles. He also had sev­eral ar­rests for theft in the 1990s and faced a felony charge for ob­tain­ing fraud­u­lent re­funds and a mis­de­meanor count of tam­per­ing with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence.

Lowy said he re­called that Sayoc also had a runin with author­i­ties over pos­ses­sion of steroids and an­other case in Broward County where he was charged with pos­sess­ing a fake driver’s li­cense af­ter al­ter­ing his birth­date to make him ap­pear younger.

“His mind doesn’t seem to op­er­ate like most peo­ple’s,” Lowy said. “It shows in his anger, his emo­tion and his be­hav­ior.”

Sayoc’s name is listed on busi­ness records tied to dry clean­ing and cater­ing busi­nesses. Records also sug­gest he also had re­cent fi­nan­cial prob­lems, in­clud­ing los­ing his home in fore­clo­sure in 2009 and fill­ing for Chap­ter 7 bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion in 2012.

In court records filed as part of the bank­ruptcy case, Sayoc was de­scribed as hav­ing $4,175 in per­sonal prop­erty and more than $21,000 in debts. His monthly in­come at the time was $1,070.

“Debtor lives with mother, owns no fur­ni­ture,” Sayoc’s lawyer in­di­cated in a prop­erty list. He owned a 2001 Chevy Ta­hoe with 285,000 miles on the odome­ter. Most of his debt was from un­paid credit cards opened up in South Florida and banks across the U.S.

Court files show Sayoc com­pleted a fi­nan­cial man­age­ment course and was dis­charged from his debts in Septem­ber 2012. Sayoc’s mother, Made­line, also filed for bank­ruptcy at the same time and was dis­charged in Jan­uary 2017. She was not im­me­di­ately avail­able to re­spond to phone mes­sages left with her by the AP.

Sayoc’s bank­ruptcy at­tor­ney, Chris­tian Ol­son, de­clined to com­ment.

Christie Cauble, in­terim di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Bre­vard Col­lege in North Carolina, said Sayoc en­rolled at the school in 1980 and at­tended through three semesters. At the time, Bre­vard was a two-year school, and Cauble said Sayoc didn’t grad­u­ate.

He then trans­ferred to the Univer­sity of North Carolina at Char­lotte, en­rolling for the 1983-84 aca­demic year. Buffie Stephens, di­rec­tor of me­dia re­la­tions for the school, said Sayoc didn’t de­clare a ma­jor. He played a few games as a walk-on player for the univer­sity’s men’s soc­cer team.

MARTA LAVANDIER AP

Po­lice on Fri­day guard the en­trance to an apart­ment build­ing that was the last known ad­dress for Sayoc.

Ce­sar Sayoc

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