NEW YORK–A Florida man accused of mailing explosive devices to President Trump critics, including national television network CNN, pled guilty Thursday to 65 felonies in U.S. District court.
Cesar Altieri Sayoc, aka “Cesar Randazzo,” “Cesar Altieri,” and “Cesar Altieri Randazzo,” pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. In connection with the guilty plea, Sayoc admitted to mailing 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 victims throughout the country, including 11 current or former U.S. government officials, and that he intended to use the IEDs as weapons and to cause injuries.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.
“Cesar Sayoc has admitted to acts of domestic terrorism that are repulsive to all Americans who cherish a society built on respectful and non-violent political discourse, no matter how strongly held one’s views,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. “Our democracy will simply not survive if our political discourse includes sending bombs to those we disagree with.”
“For five days in November 2018, Cesar Sayoc reigned terror across the country, sending high-ranking officials and former elected leaders explosive packages through the mail,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey 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.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint, Superseding Information, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings:
In October 2018, Sayoc mailed from Florida 16 padded envelopes, each containing an IED, to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Atlanta, and California.
Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded. Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red “X.” As Sayoc admitted Thursday during his plea, he designed the IEDs for use as weapons and mailed them understanding that they were capable of exploding and causing injuries and property damage. In alphabetical order, Sayoc’s intended victims were former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Cory Booker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Representative Maxine Walters. Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, 2018, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered all of the 16 IEDs mailed by Sayoc.
The FBI arrested Sayoc in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 26, 2018—less than five days after the October 22 recovery of the first IED, which Sayoc mailed to Soros in New York. The FBI seized a laptop from Sayoc’s van, which contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that Sayoc mailed. The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of Sayoc’s first name:
“Users/Ceasar/Documents.” A document from that path, titled “Debbie W.docx” and bearing a creation date of July 26, 2018, contained repeated copies of an address for “Debbie W. Schultz” in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that Sayoc used on the packages. Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name “Debbie,” and creation dates of Sept. 22, 2018, contain exact matches of the return address used by Sayoc on the 16 envelopes.
Sayoc’s laptop also revealed extensive Internet search history related to his investigation of the intended victims and his desire to injure or kill them. Sayoc’s phone also contained photographs of some of the victims.
Sayoc, a U.S. citizen, faces life in prison.