Arrest of US mail bomb suspect

'Mentally ill man who lives in a fantasy'

Sayoc plastered stickers across his white van supportive of US President Donald Trump, alongside images of Mr Trump's critics with red targets over them and a large "CNN sucks" decal.
Cesar Sayoc being escorted from an FBI facility in Florida last Friday, after he was arrested. The authorities say he was responsible for sending at least 13 potential explosive devices to prominent Democratic and media figures in recent days. PHOTO: REUTERS
Cesar Sayoc being escorted from an FBI facility in Florida last Friday, after he was arrested. The authorities say he was responsible for sending at least 13 potential explosive devices to prominent Democratic and media figures in recent days. PHOTO:
Sayoc plastered stickers across his white van supportive of US President Donald Trump, alongside images of Mr Trump’s critics with red targets over them and a large “CNN sucks” decal. PHOTO: REUTERS
Court records and those who know Sayoc said the fervent supporter of US President Donald Trump was troubled and deeply partisan.
Court records and those who know Sayoc said the fervent supporter of US President Donald Trump was troubled and deeply partisan. PHOTO: TWITTER

Court records, social media posts show Sayoc, a fervent Trump supporter, was very partisan

WASHINGTON • On the Internet and in real life, Cesar Sayoc was not shy about broadcasting his support for Mr Donald Trump and his contempt for those the US President might consider enemies.

He plastered stickers across his white van supportive of Mr Trump, alongside images of the President's critics with red targets over their faces and a large decal that read, "CNN sucks".

On Twitter, the 56-year-old Sayoc trafficked conspiracy theories and ranted about liberal billionaire George Soros, former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, as well as others whose politics were out of line with his.

"He was crazed, that's the best word for him," said Ms Debra Gureghian, the general manager of New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Sayoc worked for several months.

"There was something really off with him."

Last Friday, the authorities arrested Sayoc, alleging in a criminal complaint that he was responsible for sending at least 13 potential explosive devices to prominent Democratic and media figures across the country in recent days - including Mr Obama, Mrs Clinton, Mr Soros, former attorney-general Eric Holder, Representative Maxine Waters and others.

MEDIA RANT

Dishonest Media. CNN Sucks.

STICKERS, on Sayoc's van's window.

THREAT TO PUBLIC FIGURES

We will meet your threats right to your face soon.

TWEET, directed at former vice-president Joe Biden and former attorney-general Eric Holder

TRUMP WORSHIP

Happy Birthday the greatest President Ever Trump Trump Trump.

TWEET, posted on June 7, 2018

 
 
 

Though officials declined to say what they believe motivated him, court records, his social media and those who know him make clear that Sayoc was troubled and, at least in recent years, deeply partisan.

Mr Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney representing members of Sayoc's family, said he believed Sayoc was mentally ill and lived out of his vehicle for over a decade.

Sayoc, a registered Republican who lives in Aventura, Florida, near Miami, attended Brevard College in North Carolina, where he was a member of the soccer team, according to a school yearbook.

He had worked in recent years as a pizza delivery driver. He claimed in a 2014 deposition that he had been a manager at a strip club called Stir Crazy, was owner of a dry-cleaning store, a pro wrestler, a Chippendales dancer, a professional soccer player in Milan, and an arena football player in Arizona.

That work history, though, seems to have been inflated. Chippendales denied he was ever affiliated with the company.

Sayoc also told co-workers that he was an American Indian from the Seminole tribe, that he lived on the reservation, and that he had done work for the Hard Rock Casino. But the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International all said they could find no evidence to support that.

His cousin said Sayoc's father is Filipino and his mother Italian.

Lawyer David McDonald, who questioned Sayoc for the deposition, said Sayoc was "glib and articulate", but also "maybe delusional".

"He described himself at the centre of all these business ventures with all these people. It didn't seem like it could be true," Mr McDonald said.

Sayoc was no stranger to law enforcement, having racked up several arrests for larceny, fraud and drug possession.

In 2002, police in Miami charged Sayoc with calling Florida Power & Light and threatening to blow up the local electric utility. The report claimed Sayoc said "it would be worse than Sept 11". He ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

Mr Lowy said he is representing Sayoc's mother, Ms Madeline Giardiello, and sisters Sabrina and Tina. Ms Giardiello, 76, has been active in Democratic politics and was an officer on her condominium board in Aventura for many years, Mr Lowy said.

Mr Lowy said he represented Sayoc on a number of matters over the years, which he called "unsophisticated, stupid stuff".

"He lives in a fantasy. I have no doubt he's mentally ill," Mr Lowy said.

Sayoc has been charged with five felony counts, including interstate transportation and illegal mailing of explosives, threatening a former president, making threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officers.

He was expected to be held at the Federal Detention Centre in downtown Miami and make his first appearance before a judge tomorrow, according to former assistant US attorney David Weinstein. If convicted, Sayoc could be sentenced to up to 48 years in prison, officials said.

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 28, 2018, with the headline ''Mentally ill man who lives in a fantasy''. Print Edition | Subscribe