Florida man pleads guilty to mailing bombs to Trump foes

Cesar Sayoc, 57, sobbed as he entered the plea

A Florida man pleaded guilty Thursday to sending pipe bombs to CNN and prominent critics of President Donald Trump in a wave of attacks that harmed no one but spread fear of political violence across the U.S. for days leading up to last fall’s midterm elections.

Cesar Sayoc, 57, sobbed as he entered the plea before a federal judge in New York.

“I’m extremely sorry,” he said, adding that he never intended for the devices to explode.

He could get life in prison at sentencing Sept. 12 on 65 counts, including using weapons of mass destruction and mailing explosives with intent to kill. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge that carried a mandatory life sentence.

READ MORE: Court case begins for Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs to Trump critics

Sayoc sent rudimentary bombs — none of which detonated — to 16 targets, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Vice-President Joe Biden, several members of Congress, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.

The bombs began turning up weeks before the hotly contested midterms, contributing to an already tense political environment.

Sayoc was arrested in late October at a Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van plastered with Trump stickers and images of Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces.

On Thursday, he told the judge he made objects designed to look like pipe bombs and filled them with explosive powder from fireworks.

“Did you intend they would explode?” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff asked.

“No, sir,” Sayoc said.

“What would prevent powder from fireworks from exploding?” Rakoff asked.

“I was aware of the risk they would explode,” Sayoc said.

The first of the bombs was discovered Oct. 22 in a mailbox at an estate in New York City’s northern suburbs owned by the billionaire George Soros, a liberal political activist and frequent subject of conspiracy theories.

A device addressed to the Clintons was discovered the following day, followed a day later by a slew of bombs found at the homes or offices of prominent Democrats. One, addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, was sent to CNN in New York.

Others targeted included California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

READ MORE: Florida man charged after weeklong bomb-package scare

Over several days, investigators tracked the packages to a mail centre in Florida. Prosecutors said the evidence against Sayoc included DNA that linked him to 10 of the devices and fingerprints on two of them.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Finalists announced in Community Futures East Parkland’s third annual Marketing Plan Challenge

Small to medium sized businesses within the CFEP region were invited to participate

Stettler County council requests amendments that could allow for more dwellings in controversial development of Buffalo Lake

Project density limitations would not be financially viable, developer tells County

Clearview and staff are providing $1,525 towards ensuring families have enough to eat over the holidays

“Food Bank usage in Stettler and other areas continues to increase.”

‘You can take the kid from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the kid!’

Former area resident Maxine Berry reflects on growing up years in Endiang region

Red Deer-Lacombe MP, other Conservative MPs meet with AB justice minister

Calkins said the justice system is a revolving door for criminals targeting rural areas

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Two adults, two youths from Maskwacis charged in ATV, gun theft

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Break, Enter & Theft and Weapons Offences - Arrests

Blackfalds RCMP officer’s firearm discharged in struggle

Red Deer and Sylvan Lake RCMP assist after police vehicle stolen

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

‘He was good for the West:’ Sadness, surprise in Saskatchewan over Scheer

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his predecessor, Brad Wall, both thanked Andrew Scheer

Johnson claims Brexit mandate with new conservative majority

Conservative Party wins 365 seats in the House of Commons

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Alberta to change drug coverage for 26,000 patients, expects to save up to $380M

Patients being treated with biologics on government-sponsored drug plans must switch to biosimilars

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Most Read