The so-called ‘MAGAbomber,’ Cesar Sayoc was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in prison for sending 16 pipe bombs nationwide to critics and perceived foes of President Donald Trump. He pleaded guilty in March to a total of 65 counts. Charges included use of certain weapons of mass destruction, threatening interstate communications, and explosives used in the commission of a felony. He mailed bombs addressed to targets like former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California, 43rd District), billionaire George Soros, and actor Robert De Niro, prosecutors said.
Rakoff finds that Sayoc “was fully capable of concocting pipe bombs capable of exploding,” and since he didn’t, Rakoff believes that was “in the court’s view, a conscious choice.”
BREAKING: 20 years imprisonment.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) August 5, 2019
Even his defense described Sayoc as an obsessive fan of the current president. In a bid to lessen the possible sentence, the defense tried to show that Sayoc faced difficult life-long personal challenges, including cognitive difficulties and an unhappy childhood. He found solace in supporting Trump.
“In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump,” his legal team wrote in a July 22 filing. “His infatuation with the President began as something personal, not political. When he was most down, Mr. Sayoc relied on self-help books on tape to keep going. Donald Trump’s books on success and business were his favorites. Mr. Sayoc was an ardent Trump fan and, when Trump announced he was running for President, Mr. Sayoc enthusiastically supported him.”
According to them, Sayoc didn’t understand the extent of his actions.
“In Mr. Sayoc’s mind, he was sending a hoax device, and he had no true grasp of the severity of his crimes or the potential ramifications of his actions,” they wrote. “Now, nearly a year later, he understands how deeply wrong his actions were, and he is truly sorry for sending these packages.”
Prosecutors took issue with the defense’s “hoax device” argument. They said that Sayoc admitted in court that he knew these packages could explode.
“I’m sorry,” the defendant said in court documents. “I was aware of the risk that it would explode.” He later said that the bombs were plastic pipes with a digital alarm clock and wires. Inside were firework powder, fertilizer, pool shock (chlorine), and glass fragments, he said.
In their filings, prosecutors emphasized Sayoc’s personal responsibility in what he did, mentioned his criminal history going back decades, and said his social media activity displayed hatred for some of the targets going back to 2011.
“Millions of people watch the news, hold strong political views, and experience personal challenges,” wrote prosecutors in a filing dated Thursday. “Only the defendant constructed 16 pipe bombs packed with explosives and glass shrapnel and mailed them across the country.”
[Mugshot via Federal Bureau of Investigation.]