Feds Arrest Cesar Sayoc in Pipe Bomb Case That Targeted Trump Critics

Cesar Sayoc
Cesar Sayoc Broward Sheriff's Office
On Friday, federal officers arrested a man outside an AutoZone store in Plantation in connection with multiple pipe bombs that were sent to several prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Police named the suspect as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura. State voting records put his address at 18151 NE 31st Ct., Apt. 2016. He is a registered Republican.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the suspect faces five federal charges punishable by up to 58 years in prison, including interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of an explosive, threats against a former president and others, threatening interstate communications, and assaulting current and former federal officers.

A LinkedIn account attributed to Sayoc said he worked as a human resources manager at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood; however, Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said there was no record of an employee by that name or any alias.

Public records in Miami-Dade and Broward show Sayoc has been arrested for felonies at least three times since the '90s, for sale of steroids and testosterone, third-degree grand theft, and threatening to throw a bomb. It is unclear exactly what the last charge entailed, but Sayoc was sentenced to probation. He was most recently picked up by law enforcement in May 2015, when he allegedly tried to steal a briefcase and garment bag from a Walmart in West Palm Beach.

At the time of that arrest, Sayoc was still on probation for a December 2013 case in which he was charged with grand theft and battery, both felony-level offenses. Details of the incident were not immediately available on Friday, but Broward County court records show he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months supervision. While on probation, he got permission from the judge to travel for his job as a road manager for male revue shows Chippendales, International Gold Productions and Cesar's Palace Royale Burlesque Show. His boss, Tony Valentine, wrote in a letter to the judge that Sayoc was a "vital part" of managing and overseeing road productions.

Sayoc has also interacted with law enforcement as a victim of crime. Ten days before his arrest in West Palm Beach, he reported that his white Dodge van — likely the same one hauled away Friday by the FBI — was broken into while he was working out at an LA Fitness. The perps also got into the UHaul attached to his van, he said, and made off with $44,973 worth of belongings, including computers, electronics and clothing. Among the losses were dress shirts, some of which were Donald Trump's brand.

In 2012, Sayoc filed for bankruptcy protection. State business records show he owned at least two businesses — companies called Native American Catering & Vending and Ver Tech AG.

On Friday morning, Sayoc was apprehended at an AutoZone near Broward Boulevard and State Road 441. Law enforcement officers seized a white van with pro-Trump stickers from the scene.

He might have lived in the van for some time. David Cypkin, a Miami film producer, said he regularly saw the van that was towed away from the AutoZone store parked at the end of Waterways Boulevard in Aventura for much of 2017. The windows were covered with photos of Trump and bumper stickers that were filled with right-wing slogans.

"It was parked there on and off for a year when I would walk my dog in the morning," Cypkin recalls. "I would always pass by the Waterways Shops, and I was struck every time by the van and unsettled by the stickers and unsettled by the conspiratorial pictures on the windows."
click to enlarge PHOTOS BY DAVID CYPKIN
photos by David Cypkin
Friday afternoon, a sign at the AutoZone informed visitors the store was closed for the day. The lights were on inside, but the place looked deserted.

At 1 p.m., an FBI agent exited the store. A mass of reporters followed her to a gray Dodge Charger. She kept her face shielded and didn’t speak. The agent drove off about five minutes later, and the crowd began to disperse.
click to enlarge The scene outside a Plantation AutoZone store where FBI agents were said to have arrested Cesar Sayoc in connection with several pipe bombs sent to Democrats. - PHOTO BY BRITTANY SHAMMAS
The scene outside a Plantation AutoZone store where FBI agents were said to have arrested Cesar Sayoc in connection with several pipe bombs sent to Democrats.
photo by Brittany Shammas
As of Friday, more than 13 explosive devices had been sent to the homes or offices of Clinton, Obama, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, billionaire George Soros, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and former CIA Director John Brennan. Several of the bombs have been linked to Florida, and on Thursday evening, federal authorities searched a postal facility in Opa-locka for evidence.

Miami Herald archives show Sayoc played soccer at North Miami Beach High School in 1980. Classmates.com also shows a Cesar Sayoc at that high school.

screenshot via Miami Herald

This is a breaking news post. Updates will be added as more information becomes available.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jessica Lipscomb is news editor of Miami New Times and an enthusiastic Florida Woman. Born and raised in Orlando, she has been a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists.
Contact: Jessica Lipscomb
Meg O'Connor is a freelance journalist for Miami New Times. She moved to Miami from New York after earning a master's degree in investigative journalism from Columbia University. She previously worked for CNN's Investigative Unit.
Contact: Meg O'Connor
Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse