Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., the Filipino-American man from Southern Florida who was accused of mailing pipe bombs to numerous political figures and Trump critics last year, pleaded guilty on Thursday, March 21 in federal court in Manhattan.
Sayoc, 57, was arrested and charged late October after he sent improvised explosive devices to 13 political targets and public figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former CIA director John Brennan, Senator Kamala Harris, and Rep. Maxine Waters. Other targets included billionaire George Soros and actor Robert De Niro.
Before the federal New York judge on Thursday, Sayoc pleaded guilty to a total of 65 felonies from four sets of charges including illegally mailing explosives with intent to kill or injure another, and using weapons of mass destruction.
Sayoc admitted that he designed the devices “to look like pipe bombs” complete with explosive powder from fireworks, and a digital alarm clock with wires.
“I knew these actions were wrong. I’m extremely sorry,” Sayoc told U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, adding that he did not intend for the bombs to explode.
Nevertheless, Sayoc said he was “aware of the risk that they would explode.”
“For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country, sending high-ranking officials and former elected leaders explosive packages through the mail,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake. Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison.”
Sayoc, who is slated to be sentenced on September 12, faces a possible sentence of life in prison, according to a statement by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Following the FBI’s announcement of his arrest in October, details emerged about Sayoc including that of prior run-ins with the law such as an arrest on a felony theft charge back in 1991, and on charges of domestic violence in 1994. He was also arrested on charges of making bomb threats in 2002, according to public records.
Lenny Altieri, a cousin of Sayoc’s mother Madeleine Altieri, told the New York Times last year that Sayoc had problems with his mother and as a result was raised by his grandparents. Altieri said that Sayoc’s father was from the Philippines.
On his LinkedIn, Sayoc claimed that his grandfather, Col. Baltazar Zook Sayoc, “built all the hospitals in the Philippines,” and was a Philippine martial art Kali expert who helped fight the Communist Party in the Philippines. However, Sayoc Global, which has the trademark for Sayoc Kali, released a statement that Cesar Sayoc “has no affiliation with Sayoc Kali” and “was not a grandchild of Baltazar Zook Sayoc.”
Sayoc was also revealed to be an ardent Trump supporter who often tweeted conspiracy theories and memes about liberal public figures.
Upon his arrest, authorities impounded his van, which was covered in images and stickers of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.