A federal judge is set to decide Friday whether the man accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats will remain jailed and will be transferred to New York for his trial.
Suspect Cesar Sayoc is scheduled to appear in federal court at 10 a.m. local time. Prosecutors have asked a judge in Miami, where he’s detained, to deny bail pending trial and move him to New York to “face the consequences of his actions.”
Sayoc, 56, was charged with five federal crimes linked to at least 14 mail bombs that were sent to several targets, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. None of the devices detonated, and no one was injured.
If convicted, Sayoc could receive up to 48 years in prison.
FBI finds targets list, package labels
In the week since his arrest, authorities have called the pipe bombs a “domestic terrorist attack,” seized a van plastered with pro-Trump and anti-Democrat memes that Sayoc owned and intercepted what appears to be a 15th package at an off-site screening facility in Atlanta.
A letter sent to the judge presiding over Sayoc’s case in Florida also revealed a glimpse of how the suspect may have started planning to send the pipe bombs.
“Put simply, only the defendant’s arrest and incapacitation resulting from his detention were sufficient to stop his attack,” the document states.
Searches into Sayoc’s laptop and cellphone showed that he had been doing research online about the homes and families of the recipients of the packages. He also kept a list of their physical addresses and had lists of other potential targets, the letter said.
And while the exact content of the packages has not been discussed in detail, prosecutors said the bombs had clear similarities. They were found in envelopes that had return labels listing the address and the name of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former Democratic National Committee chair.
The return labels all had the same misspellings, the letter said.
Video shows suspect chatting with officers
Sayoc was arrested last week at an AutoZone parking lot in Plantation, Florida, but it was not the first time that law enforcement approached him near his vehicle.
Two Boca Raton police officers had a friendly chat with the former male dancer outside a fitness club in September. The officer explains someone had called about Sayoc, saying, “They were concerned about you. “The nearly five-minute conversation was recorded on an officer’s body-cam. It is the first time most people have heard Sayoc’s voice since his arrest.
The officers seemed to think he was OK. Sayoc told them he was taking a nap after working at a Florida strip club and that he planned to go inside the gym to workout. They checked his license and ran his plate, and they both came back valid.
In the video, Sayoc’s dashboard and front seats are visible, but not the rest of the interior.
A law enforcement official had said it appeared that Sayoc had been kicked out by his parents and was living in the white Dodge van.
Investigators believe that Sayoc made the pipe bombs in that van, two law enforcement sources had said.
Boca Raton police also released a report from 2014 in which a Publix employee said she believed Sayoc was using receipts from other stores in the chain to falsely get money back for items he had shoplifted.
It is unclear whether the case proceeded further. The report notes that the store planned to call the police if Sayoc returned.