FLORIDA — Federal authorities took Cesar Sayoc into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 13 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.
Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida was arrested Friday at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York, according to the Broward County Clerk of Courts. It is not clear when he moved to Florida.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says federal authorities are charging Sayoc with five federal crimes, including the mailing of explosives. The charges carry a maximum of 58 years in prison.
Thirteen suspected bombs mailed to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton, were recovered in the past week.
The case continued widening Friday even as Sayoc was detained, as investigators in California scrutinized a similar package sent to Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, her office said. It is not yet known if Sayoc is suspected in all of the incidents.
Law enforcement officers were seen on television Friday examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in Plantation. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.
The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.
According to court and other public records, Sayoc has a lengthy criminal and court record in Florida. He has been convicted on theft, stolen property and traffic charges and in 2002 on a threat to "throw, place, project or discharge any destructive device."
Sayoc was sentenced in August 2002 for threatening to throw a bomb in a conversation with a Florida utility representative, according to Ronald Lowy, a Miami attorney who represented him. Dade County court records showed Sayoc served a year's probation after a judge signed a discharge certificate in November 2002.
Lowy told The Associated Press that Sayoc "made a verbal threat when he was frustrated at a lack of service." Lowy said Sayoc showed no ability at the time to back up his threat with bomb-making expertise.
The lawyer said Sayoc was a bodybuilder then, and displayed no political leanings except for plastering a vehicle he owned with Native American signs.
Court records also show that Sayoc was convicted in the 1990s in Broward County on grand theft and stolen property charges and in 2004 on a felony charge of fraudulent refunds and misdemeanor of tampering with physical evidence.
In 2009, Sayoc lost his home when IndyMac moved to foreclose on his south Florida home, according to Florida property and court records.
The bank that foreclosed on the home of Sayoc was formerly owned by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
IndyMac was a California-based bank that failed during the recession and was later purchased by a group of investors that included Mnuchin. IndyMac was renamed OneWest Bank.
Further, there are signs that Sayoc may have been a victim of a controversial industry practice during the recession.
The lawyer who signed Sayoc's foreclosure paperwork was Erica Johnson-Seck, a lawyer for OneWest. Johnson-Seck was an official at the center of OneWest's so-called "robo-signing" scandal. Robo-signing is where banks signed off on thousands of legal documents automatically without checking their accuracy, causing thousands of people to lose their homes without proper procedures.
Johnson-Seck, in a court deposition in 2009, testified she would sign more than 750 legal documents for One West a week.