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Cesar Sayoc, sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, CNN

Posted: 4:07 PM, Aug 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-05 16:07:40-04

Cesar Sayoc, the man who sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled Monday.

Cesar Sayoc is accused of sending multiple suspected bombs to top officials in October 2018. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office)

Sayoc sent 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 targets over two weeks last October, according to court documents obtained by CNN. His targets included former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, actor Robert De Niro and major Democratic donors like George Soros and Tom Steyer. None of the devices detonated, and no one was injured.

His lawyers, led by Sarah Baumgartel of Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., an independent, nonprofit organization, struck a deal with prosecutors to eliminate a charge that would have carried a mandatory life prison sentence as long as Sayoc entered a guilty plea to 65 felony counts. He did so in March.

That same agreement included Sayoc’s sworn statement that he “sent all of the 16 devices with the intent to threaten and intimidate people and with the intent to injure property” and that he “was aware of the risk that [the devices] would explode.”

Prosecutors led by U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York filed a request in July asking that Sayoc be sentenced to life in prison.

Sayoc’s “terrorist attack” was the culmination of years of “hate-filled threats,” months of planning and “days of carefully assembling the explosive mailings,” according to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum obtained by CNN.

Each of his packages contained a photograph of the intended victim with a red X placed over the face and added “black flags similar in appearance to banners used by ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations,” according to the prosecution.

Sayoc’s IEDs included not only explosive powder from fireworks, but also shards of glass, pool chemicals and other ingredients intended to maximize potential injuries, the memorandum stated.

While there is “no dispute” Sayoc’s IEDs would not function as designed, they “were dangerous, capable of causing extensive harm, and responsible for shutting down parts of several major metropolitan areas, including train stations, schools, and postal facilities,” according to the memorandum.

In their plea for leniency, his attorneys described Sayoc as “born with cognitive limitations and severe learning disabilities.” His attorneys also wrote that “a series of traumatic events pushed [him] further and further into the margins of society.” These events include his father’s abandonment, sexual molestation by a teacher, family estrangement and dependence on drugs, particularly steroids, they stated in court document.