Cesar Sayoc’s political inclinations were passionately displayed for everyone to see.
His social media accounts and the windows of his white van were plastered with messages supporting the President, and provocative photos and memes attacking liberals. Facebook video showed him in a MAGA hat at Trump rally in 2016.
He was also open with a former boss, who says Sayoc called himself a white supremacist. Debra Gureghian said Sayoc told her that lesbians like her and other minorities should be put on an island. And though he liked her, she would be the first person he would burn, Gureghian recalled.
His former lawyer, Ronald S. Lowy, says he has for years shown “a lack of comprehension of reality.”
But federal authorities say the 13 pipe bombs Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, allegedly sent through the US mail are real, and were a danger to the people he mailed them to in recent days.
He told investigators after he was arrested in Plantation that the pipe bombs wouldn’t have hurt anyone, and that he didn’t want to hurt anyone, according to a law enforcement official.
Sayoc was being held Friday night at a federal detention center in Miami. It appears that he had been living in the white Dodge van where he was found and arrested Friday morning, the law enforcement official said.
‘He thinks there is nothing wrong with him,’ lawyer says
He also has a past marked by encounters with law enforcement. He had been arrested nine times before Friday, mostly in Florida.
Notable among them was a 2002 arrest: Sayoc threatened to bomb the Florida Power and Light Co., Miami police alleged, and said that “it would be worse than September 11th.”
“The defendant contacted a rep (from) Florida Power and Light Co. … by telephone and threatened to blow up FPL,” a Miami Police Department report about the incident reads.
The caller “threatened to blow up the building if FP&L turned off his light,” the report reads.
Records show that Sayoc pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year of probation.
Lowy, now the attorney for Sayoc’s mother and sisters, says they have told him to get treatment.
“He thinks there’s nothing wrong with him,” Lowy said in a telephone interview, shortly after meeting with the suspect’s family.
He said Sayoc’s mother, who underwent surgery Friday, “can’t understand his behavior or views.”
A 2012 bankruptcy filing in Florida indicated that Sayoc “lives with his mom, owns no furniture.” The 46-page filing, signed by Sayoc in June 2012, lists total assets of $4,175 and liabilities of $21,109.
Model employee who espoused hate, former boss says
Gureghian, the general manager of New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, said Sayoc used his white van to deliver food for her at night.
“I knew he had issues,” she said, adding he went about “to the beat of his own drum.”
He called himself a white supremacist, she said.
Sayoc dislikes gay people, African-Americans, Jews, and anybody who isn’t white, she said. They don’t belong in the world, she recalled him saying to her frequently.
Even though she hated his political leanings, she wouldn’t fire him because he did his job and there were no complaints, Debra Gureghian said.
“He was a model employee,” she said, adding that she “can’t understand” how he would allegedly send mail bombs.
He would also tell Gureghian, who is a lesbian, that she would burn in hell, she told CNN.
Sayoc quit in January, she said. He told them he got a job in North Carolina driving a hazardous materials truck.
Here are other things we know about Sayoc:
• As recently as Wednesday, Sayoc posted a tweet that was critical of billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, former President Barack Obama and others. A package to Soros was recovered two days earlier, on Monday.
• Sayoc described himself on Twitter as the “Current Booking Agent/Sales/Marketing/Promotions/Project Mgr Live Events” at Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International said in a statement there was “no evidence” the suspect “is or was a member or employee of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, or is or was an employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International. At this time, we cannot verify if he is or was an employee of a vendor company.”
• He is a registered Republican, according to Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell, citing the state’s Division of Elections records.
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Sayoc faces at least five federal counts, including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former Presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers. He faces up to 48 years in prison.
• Sayoc will appear in a Miami federal court on Monday, according to the Southern District of New York, where five federal charges are to be prosecuted.
• The records show his nine arrests included accusations of grand theft, battery, fraud, drug possession and probation violations.
Sayoc was convicted by plea of stealing copper pipes from a Home Depot in Hollywood, Florida, in 2014, court documents show. He’d been charged with petit theft.
The adjudication of some of the other arrests could not immediately be determined from the summary of offenses provided by the Department of Law Enforcement. Sayoc appears to have pleaded no contest to some offenses, and prosecutors seem to have dropped charges in other matters.
He was also arrested in April 1999 for possession of a stolen vehicle, according to Angie Grube, spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s office.
• Sayoc was also arrested in April 1999 in North Carolina on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, said Angie Grube, a spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. But the district attorney’s office dismissed the charges, said Tim Ayock, spokesman for police in the town of Matthews.
The arrest happened when a Matthews officer “stopped to help a broken-down vehicle and it turned out to be a stolen vehicle,” Ayock said.
It’s not clear why the charges were dismissed, Ayock said. Charlotte-Mecklenburg district attorney’s office spokeswoman Meghan McDonald declined to comment about the case.
• He attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, according to the school’s communications office. He was an undeclared major and played on the soccer team. Sayoc attended for one year and did not graduate.
• Sayoc was a student at Brevard College in North Carolina, school spokeswoman Christie Cauble told CNN. He enrolled at Brevard in fall 1980 and attended classes there for three semesters but didn’t graduate, Cauble said.
• Sayoc was not previously known to the Secret Service, law enforcement sources said.