NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Florida man arrested Friday morning in connection with the series of suspected explosive devices sent to notable Democrats around the country has been identified as Cesar Sayoc. The Department of Justice confirmed his arrest at around 11 a.m.
- Sayoc is a 56-year-old man in who was taken into custody in South Florida. He has ties to New York and Florida court documents list his place of birth as Brooklyn.
- Sayoc has a lengthy criminal history that dates back to 1991.
- According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Sayoc has been arrested for both grand larceny and petty larceny in the early 90s.
- In 2002, he was arrested on a felony charge listed as “Threat to Bomb.” Court documents say Sayoc pleaded guilty to threatening to discharge a destructive device however, the arrest record does not detail who Sayoc’s target was.
- In 2004, the 56-year-old was arrested on multiple charges including fraud and drug possession. Five years ago, Sayoc was again charged with larceny and has reportedly violated his probation at least twice since then.
A law enforcement source told CBS News that DNA evidence on one of the 14 devices sent out played a part in leading investigators to the Florida resident. FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed that a fingerprint on one of the packages, allegedly sent to congresswoman Maxine Waters, belonged to Sayoc.
A van linked to Sayoc, which is being combed over by investigators, appeared to have several images of President Trump on it. It also reportedly featured several anti-Democrat images, including some of the same Democrats who were sent suspicious packages this week. It was taken to the FBI’s field office in Mirimar, according to the bureau.
Sayoc, 56, is an amateur bodybuilder and former male stripper, a loner with a long arrest record who showed little interest in politics until Donald Trump came along. Florida voter records show he first registered in March 2016 as a Republican and cast a ballot in that November’s heated presidential election. Sayoc’s social media accounts are peppered with memes supporting Trump, denigrating Democrats, and promoting conspiracy theories about George Soros, the billionaire political donor who was the first targeted this week by a package bomb.
Sayoc has also tweeted and posted on Facebook videos that appear to show him at Trump rallies.
Ronald Scott Lowy, an attorney who says he’s represented Sayoc in previous cases, told reporters that his former client has “always had problems dealing with life.”
“His mind doesn’t seem to operate like most peoples’,” Lowy said. “It shows in his anger, his emotion and his behavior.”
Lowy said Sayoc displayed no political leanings at the time except for plastering a vehicle he owned with Native American signs. Lowy said Sayoc told him his father was Native American.
More recently, Sayoc described himself on social media as being affiliated with the Seminole Warriors boxing club.
However, his cousin said Sayoc’s mother was Italian and his biological father was Filipino, and his parents separated when he was a young boy. Lenny Altieri said the only connection to Native Americans was that Sayoc a decade and a half ago had dated a woman in Minnesota who was a member of a tribe.
“That might be the only connection I can think of,” Altieri said.
Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said there is no evidence to show that Sayoc worked for the tribe or was a tribal member.
After his parents separated, Sayoc was “kind of rejected” by his family, Altieri said.
“When you get no love as a young kid, you get kind of out of whack,” he said.
Sayoc was swarmed by dozens of heavily armed law enforcement officers on Friday morning in the parking lot of an AutoZone store. Authorities said he’s been charged with five federal crimes including threatening a former U.S. president, and is facing up to 48 years in prison if convicted. He’s expected to appear in Florida federal court on Monday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)