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Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc appears in Miami federal court

Authorities say South Florida man sent explosive devices to Trump opponents

MIAMI – A South Florida man accused of sending packages containing explosives to prominent Democrats and other opponents of President Donald Trump made his first court appearance Monday afternoon in Miami federal court.

Cesar Sayoc, who was sporting a tan jumpsuit with a bright orange undershirt, was joined by his three private attorneys, Dan Aaronson, James Scott Benjamin and Peter Patanzo.

Sayoc, 56, faces five federal charges after he was arrested Friday at an Auto Zone in Plantation.

During the hearing, Sayoc seemed engaged with his attorneys and was very talkative, even smiling at some points.

But he nodded and spoke softly into the microphone when he was addressed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres.

He has invoked his right to remain silent. His attorneys, meanwhile, told Local 10 News they still have a lot to learn about the case as most of what they know is coming from the media.

The attorneys said so far, the evidence against their client is circumstantial.

"Nobody has been able to, in the court of law, say that those were bombs that he sent," said attorney Daniel Aaronson.

Cesar Sayoc made his first court appearance Oct. 29 in Miami federal court after being arrested in connection with pipe bomb packages mailed to prominent Democratic figures.
Cesar Sayoc made his first court appearance Oct. 29 in Miami federal court after being arrested in connection with pipe bomb packages mailed to prominent Democratic figures.

Sayoc was initially expected to be transferred to New York after his first appearance as that is where he is being prosecuted, but removal proceedings have since been delayed.

Sayoc's attorneys have asked for a pretrial detention hearing to be set and the government requested that the hearing take place as soon as possible.

Torres scheduled the detention hearing for Friday morning. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sayoc mailed 13 explosive devices to former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, philanthropist George Soros and actor Robert De Niro.

Wray said each of the 13 IEDs consisted of about 6 inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring and energetic material. Some of the mailings included photographs of the targeted recipients marked with a red "X."

Sayoc's fingerprint was found on one of the envelopes addressed to Waters, and a DNA sample collected from a piece of the IED inside two of the envelopes matched Sayoc.

As Sayoc entertained patrons as a DJ at Ultra Gentlemen's Club in West Palm Beach, he could not have known that lab technicians and federal agents had linked DNA on two pipe bomb packages he was accused of sending to a sample on file with Florida authorities. Or that a fingerprint match had turned up on a separate mailing.

This is a photograph of the suspicious package sent to Robert De Niro in New York.
This is a photograph of the suspicious package sent to Robert De Niro in New York.

Investigators scouring his social media accounts had found the same spelling mistakes on his online posts -- "Hilary" Clinton, Deborah Wasserman "Shultz" -- as on the mailings he'd soon be charged with sending.

In the end, prosecutors who charged Sayoc said the fervent Trump supporter unwittingly left behind a wealth of clues about the mailed pipe-bombs, including a list of more than 100 people Sayoc intended to mail similar packages to.

CNN reported that authorities are reaching out to every person on the list. 


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