Cesar Sayoc pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Thursday to dozens of felony charges stemming from 16 explosive devices intended for high-profile liberal public figures, including former President Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Sayoc initially pleaded not guilty in November 2018 to charges brought by the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York.
“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,” Berman said in a statement. “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.”
Beginning in October 2018, Sayoc mailed 16 envelopes that contained improvised explosive devices from near his home in Florida to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., California and elsewhere. The packages contained glass shards and explosive materials that Sayoc admitted in court were meant to do substantial harm to whoever opened the package.
The first of the mail bombs were recovered Oct. 22 at the New York home of George Soros, a hedge fund billionaire and prominent Democratic Party supporter who is often the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The following day a package intended for former Secretary of State Clinton in New York was intercepted. Packages sent to actor Robert De Niro, Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Vice President Joe Biden, among a number of other individuals, would be discovered.
Sayoc was arrested Oct. 26 in Florida. Federal agents seized a substantial amount of incriminating information, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including a laptop with lists of addresses that matched many of those sent packages. The laptop also included browser history that showed numerous searches that contained the names of those who had received packages and the word “address.”
Among the counts Sayoc pleaded guilty to were 16 counts of use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries with it a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The defendant was represented by attorneys with the Federal Defenders, led by attorney Amy Gallicchio, who declined to comment.
Sayoc is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff on Sept. 12.