What we know about mail bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc

Aventura man, 56, has lengthy arrest history in South Florida

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Associated Press, Andrew Perez - Reporter

PLANTATION, Fla. - A man accused of sending numerous packages containing explosive devices to prominent Democratic figures and to CNN has been identified as Cesar Sayoc.

Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, has a lengthy arrest history in South Florida and was arrested in Miami-Dade County in 2002 on a threat to "throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device."

Miami attorney Ronald Lowy said Sayoc was sentenced in August 2002 for threatening to throw a bomb in a conversation with a Florida utility representative. Miami-Dade County court records showed Sayoc served a year's probation after a judge signed a discharge certificate in November 2002.

Lowy told The Associated Press that Sayoc "made a verbal threat when he was frustrated at a lack of service." Lowy, who represented Sayoc, said he showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with bomb-making expertise.

The lawyer said Sayoc was a bodybuilder then and displayed no political leanings, except for plastering a vehicle he owned with Native American signs.

The AP also spoke with Sayoc's cousin, who claimed the man was a former stripper. 

"I know the guy is a lunatic," Lenny Altieri said. "He has been a loner." 

Employees at a Papa Johns in Hollywood told Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez that Sayoc used to deliver food for the company.

One former co-worker, Luigi Marra, said Sayoc constantly talked about politics at work and the company received complaints from customers about the van he was driving.

"He would say, 'It's time to put them down.' You know, 'This is what she needs.' Talking about Hillary Clinton. 'Oh, this is what she needs.'" Marra said. "Who does things like this?

Employees said Sayoc was usually friendly, but seemed a little off.

"Friendly -- in a very friendly manner as long as you were Pro-Trump," Marra said. 

Employees said they were under the impression that Sayoc had been living out of his van. 

Employees at Ultra nightclub in West Palm Beach confirmed Sayoc DJ'd at the club Thursday night. A manager there said she was shocked by his arrest. 

Court records show Sayoc was convicted in the 1990s in Broward County on grand theft and stolen property charges. In 2004, he was convicted on a felony charge of fraudulent refunds and a misdemeanor charge of tampering with physical evidence.

He was also accused of domestic violence in 1994 and the case was disposed by a judge. 

Records show he filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and stated in his petition that he lived with his mother and had no furniture. 

The bank that foreclosed on his home, meanwhile, was formerly owned by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Sayoc lost his home in 2009 when IndyMac moved to foreclose on his South Florida house, according to Florida property and court records. IndyMac was a California-based bank that failed during the recession and was later purchased by a group of investors that included Mnuchin. IndyMac was renamed OneWest Bank.

Further, there are signs that Sayoc may have been a victim of a controversial industry practice during the recession.

The lawyer who signed Sayoc's foreclosure paperwork was Erica Johnson-Seck, a lawyer for OneWest.

Johnson-Seck was an official at the center of OneWest's so-called "robo-signing" scandal. Robo-signing is where banks signed off on thousands of legal documents automatically without checking their accuracy, causing thousands of people to lose their homes without proper procedures.

Johnson-Seck, in a court deposition in 2009, testified she would sign more than 750 legal documents for One West a week.

Multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News Sayoc was tracked using a cellphone. Authorities have recovered a cellphone, a laptop computer and other electronic devices from Sayoc.

A van believed to belong to him was also towed away by the FBI Friday morning from the parking lot of an Auto Zone in Plantation. Its windows were covered with pro-President Donald Trump stickers and other political stickers.

Two Twitter accounts believed to be associated with Sayoc criticize numerous Democratic politicians, including candidate for Florida governor Andrew Gillum, and frequently mention the Seminole Tribe.

According to Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner, it does not appear that Sayoc is a member of the tribe or a current or former employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International.

"We can find 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 Seminole Tribe of Florida, or is or was an employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International," Bitner said in a statement. "At this time, we cannot verify if he is or was an employee of a vendor company."

Sayoc graduated from North Miami Beach Senior High School in 1980. 

 

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