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 14 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.
Suspect shared photos of homes of people who received mail bombs
Sayoc was prolific on his two Facebook accounts and three Twitter feeds.
One picture from a video clearly shows the suspect with Trump in the background speaking on stage at what appears to be a campaign rally in 2016. Another appears to have been taken at Trump’s inauguration.
In other posts, Sayoc shared several conspiracy theories, memes and articles slamming Hillary Clinton, who ran against Trump.
On September 20, in response to a tweet from President Trump, Sayoc posted a self-shot video of himself at what appears to be a Donald Trump rally.
The text of the tweet threatened former Vice President Joe Biden and former attorney general Eric Holder, both of whom were targeted by improvised explosive devices discovered this week.
“Go Trump Trump Trump hey Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. And Eric Himpton Holder Sr. Stick your BS all crap you talk where sun doesn’t shine . We will meet your threats right to your face soon.Not option we will see you soon .Hug loved ones real close we aren’t ones,” the tweet read.
He also posted virulently anti-Muslim memes and published the address of George Soros, and photos of the homes of some of the people who later received bombs in the mail.
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.
And about two weeks ago, Sayoc tweeted at a political analyst.
“We will see you 4 sure.Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave you home,” the tweet read in part.
Rochelle Ritchie reported it as abuse but Twitter said it wasn’t a violation of its rules.
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN that the company had removed Sayoc’s account on Friday. The spokesperson said that several of Sayoc’s previous posts had violated Facebook’s community standards, and had been removed before he was arrested, but that none of his posts which were reported to or discovered by Facebook contained violations of its rules severe enough to remove the account entirely.
’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:
• A cousin, Lenny Altieri, said Sayoc was a male dancer who took a lot of steroids, but went to good schools and was well educated. “Brains and common sense are not synonymous,” he said.
• 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
. • 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.”
Lowy, the family attorney, said Sayoc’s father is Filipino and his mother is Italian.
• Sayoc is a registered Republican, according to Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell, citing the state’s Division of Elections records.
• Court records show his nine arrests included accusations of grand theft, battery, fraud, drug possession and probation violations.
• 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.
CNN’s Janet DiGiacomo, Mark Morales, Marlena Baldacci, Shimon Prokupecz, Carma Hassan, Tina Burnside, Mary Kay Mallonee, Carma Hassan, Kara Scannell and Curt Devine contributed to this report.