WASHINGTON — Branding his alleged crimes a domestic terror attack, the Justice Department today levied weapons of mass destruction charges against the Florida man accused of sending pipe bombs to various foes of the president.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, was charged in a 30-count indictment for the mailing of 16 explosive devices to 13 intended targets.
The packages were mailed to George Soros, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden, actor Robert De Niro, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), billionaire Tom Steyer, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The packages bore a return address to the office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).
Sayoc, of Aventura, Fla., was arrested at a store in Plantation, Fla., on Oct. 26 and was originally charged with five counts. The 3o counts announced today applied to the New York victims: Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Soros and De Niro. Five counts of using a weapon of mass destruction carry a maximum penalty, per count, of life in prison.
He also faces five counts each of interstate transportation of an explosive, conveying a threat in interstate commerce, unlawful use of mail, carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony, and using and carrying a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence. The last charge carries a minimum 30-year sentence and maximum life sentence on the first offense, and mandatory life sentence for each additional count.
Each envelope mailed by Sayoc, says the indictment, contained an IED consisting of about six inches of PVC pipe packed with explosive material, wiring and a small clock. Some also contained glass shards to act as shrapnel.
The FBI says it also seized a laptop from Sayoc’s van that had a list of targets’ addresses stored in the documents folder. He also allegedly had a search history on his cell phone looking for addresses of people who later received the mail bombs.
“Sayoc’s alleged conduct put numerous lives at risk. It was also an assault on a nation that values the rule of law, a free press, and tolerance of differences without rancor or resort to violence,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. “Thanks to the diligent and determined work of our law enforcement partners here and across the country, it took just five days to identify and apprehend Sayoc and end his reign of terror. He now faces justice from a nation of laws.”