Pipe bomb suspect poised for guilty plea proceeding in New York

NEW YORK — A Florida man who authorities say sent pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Donald Trump is expected to plead guilty Thursday.

Cesar Sayoc is scheduled to enter the plea in Manhattan federal court.

The change-of-plea hearing was revealed last week after a phone conference between prosecutors, Sayoc’s lawyers and a judge. Sayoc’s plea will avert a trial scheduled for July.

Authorities say he targeted numerous Democrats, including former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the billionaire George Soros, former President Barack Obama and CNN, heightening tensions before midterm elections. No bombs exploded.

Sayoc has been held without bail since his late-October arrest outside a South Florida auto parts store. He had been living in a van covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces.

Others targeted by the mailings included former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Packages were also mailed to CNN in New York and Atlanta.

Prosecutors say evidence against Sayoc includes DNA linking him to 10 of the explosive devices and fingerprints on two of them.

Without a plea deal, Sayoc faced charges carrying a potential penalty of mandatory life in prison. A court filing last Friday didn’t indicate which charge or charges the plea would involve.

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