Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN, will be sentenced Monday to between 121 months and life in prison.
Sayoc sent 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 targets over two weeks last October, according to court documents obtained by CNN. His targets included former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, actor Robert De Niro and major Democratic donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer. None of the devices detonated, and no one was injured.
He has been held without bail since his arrest in October outside a South Florida auto parts store.
His lawyers, led by Sarah Baumgartel of Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., an independent, nonprofit organization, struck a deal with prosecutors to eliminate a charge that would have carried a mandatory life prison sentence when Sayoc entered a guilty plea to 65 felony counts in March.
That same agreement included Sayoc’s sworn statement that he “sent all of the 16 devices with the intent to threaten and intimidate people and with the intent to injure property” and that he “was aware of the risk that [the devices] would explode.”
His sentencing date was originally September 12, but Baumgartel convinced US District Judge Jed Rakoff to agree to an earlier date, explaining that Sayoc was anxious about the matter.
Prosecutors led by US Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York filed a request in July asking that Sayoc be sentenced to life in prison.
Sayoc’s “terrorist attack” was the culmination of years of “hate-filled threats,” months of planning and “days of carefully assembling the explosive mailings,” according to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum obtained by CNN.
Each of his packages contained a photograph of the intended victim with a red X placed over the face and added “black flags similar in appearance to banners used by ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations,” according to the prosecution.
Sayoc’s IEDs included not only explosive powder from fireworks, but also shards of glass, pool chemicals and other ingredients intended to maximize potential injuries, the memorandum stated.
While there is “no dispute” Sayoc’s IEDs would not function as designed, they “were dangerous, capable of causing extensive harm, and responsible for shutting down parts of several major metropolitan areas, including train stations, schools, and postal facilities,” according to the memorandum.
In their plea for leniency, his attorneys described Sayoc as “born with cognitive limitations and severe learning disabilities.” His attorneys also wrote that “a series of traumatic events pushed [him] further and further into the margins of society.” These events include his father’s abandonment, sexual molestation by a teacher, family estrangement and dependence on drugs, particularly steroids, they stated in court document.
By the time he committed his offenses, “he was living alone in a decrepit and cramped van that had been his home for more than a decade,” his lawyers wrote.
“In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump,” his attorneys wrote. “He came to believe that he was being personally targeted for supporting Trump: Mr. Sayoc thought that anti-Trump forces were trying to hurt him and they were to blame when his van was vandalized.”
Sayoc believed he was sending “a hoax device, and he had no true grasp of the severity of his crimes or the potential ramifications of his actions,” according to his lawyers: “Now, nearly a year later, he understands how deeply wrong his actions were, and he is truly sorry for sending these packages.”
Baumgartel requested the judge sentence Sayoc to just 121 months in prison as “no significant additional prison time” is “necessary to meet the goals of sentencing.”