Mail bomb sus­pect charged in 30-count in­dict­ment

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - National & World - By Matt Za­po­to­sky

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York on Fri­day se­cured a 30-count in­dict­ment against the man ac­cused of mail­ing pos­si­ble pack­age bombs to prom­i­nent Democrats and Trump crit­ics across the coun­try, bring­ing charges that are both more se­vere and more nu­mer­ous than those he pre­vi­ously faced.

Ce­sar Sayoc, 56, who had been liv­ing out of a van in Aven­tura, faces a pos­si­ble sen­tence of life in prison based on the charges, in­clud­ing five counts of us­ing a weapon of mass destruc­tion, five counts of il­le­gal mail­ing of ex­plo­sives, and five counts of threat­en­ing in­ter­state com­mu­ni­ca­tions and other sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions. His next court ap­pear­ance was not im­me­di­ately sched­uled.

An at­tor­ney for Sayoc did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

Au­thor­i­ties have said they be­lieve Sayoc is re­spon­si­ble for mail­ing 16 pos­si­ble ex­plo­sive de­vices to peo­ple con­sid­ered foes of the pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama, for­mer sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary Clin­ton, for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Eric Holder, lib­eral bil­lion­aire Ge­orge Soros and oth­ers. Sayoc was ar­rested last month and charged with five counts. Even af­ter he was in taken into cus­tody, au­thor­i­ties con­tin­ued to re­cover pack­ages they be­lieve he sent through the mail.

None of the de­vices ex­ploded. FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray has said they were not hoaxes.

Fam­ily mem­bers and as­so­ci­ates of Sayoc have said he was trou­bled man who strug­gled with men­tal health prob­lems and lied as he sought to find an iden­tity with which he was com­fort­able. He worked in strip clubs, dab­bled in body build­ing and had fre­quent run-ins with the law, in­clud­ing a 2002 in­ci­dent in which he threat­ened to blow up a Florida util­ity com­pany.

As far back as 2015, he took an in­ter­est in Trump at­tend­ing cam­paign events and post­ing on so­cial me­dia his sup­port for the then­pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. Sayoc cov­ered the van he lived in with pro-Trump stick­ers and de­cals of the pres­i­dent’s op­po­nents with tar­gets over their faces.

Pros­e­cu­tors have al­leged pre­vi­ously that Sayoc be­gan plan­ning to send the pos­si­ble bombs - com­posed of six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a bat­tery, wiring and what au­thor­i­ties termed “en­er­getic,” or pos­si­bly ex­plo­sive, ma­te­rial - as far back as July. The In­ter­net search his­tory on his phone showed he searched “hi­lary Clin­ton hime [sic] ad­dress” on July 15 and “ad­dress Deb­bie wauser­man Shultz” on July 26.

Each of the pack­ages listed Shultz - a likely mis­spelling of Rep. Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz, D-Fla. - in the re­turn ad­dress. Sayoc searched through­out Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber for the ad­dresses of oth­ers - in­clud­ing Obama, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, D-Calif., and ma­jor Demo­cratic donor Tom Steyer, pros­e­cu­tors have said.

The FBI con­nected Sayoc to the de­vices via fin­ger­prints and a pos­si­ble DNA match, au­thor­i­ties have said. His at­tor­ney in Florida, where he first ap­peared in court, has called the ev­i­dence against Sayoc “flimsy.”

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