Fil-Am pipe bomb suspect indicted in New York

TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2018 06:34 PM

Filipino-American pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. has been indicted in a New York Federal Court on charges of using weapons of mass destruction for allegedly mailing 16 improvised explosive devices to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors accused Sayoc of threatening to injure his intended targets, violating federal law by sending the devices through the U.S. Postal Service, and other charges.

If found guilty on the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

The packages Sayoc is accused of mailing to Hillary Clinton, former CIA director John Brennan, actor-director Robert De Niro, and former national intelligence director James Clapper contained photos of the recipients that were marked "with a red 'X,'" prosecutors said.

The indictment did not include federal prosecutors' previous allegations that Sayoc mailed similar bomb-laden packages to former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The federal law definition of a weapon of mass destruction includes destructive devices such as bombs, grenades or rockets that are "designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury." 

Before the indictment, Sayoc had been accused in a criminal complaint that included five federal charges, including illegal mailing of explosives and making threats against former U.S. presidents and others. 

Federal investigators arrested Sayoc on Oct. 26 in Plantation, Florida, just west of Fort Lauderdale. They said they had linked him to fingerprint and DNA evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's crime laboratory recovered from some of the packages. He has been held without bail since his capture.

Sayoc had been scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for a hearing on the earlier charges. The indictment means that a hearing is no longer necessary. A new hearing to arraign Sayoc on the indictment charges has yet to be set.

Sayoc was estranged from his Filipino and Italian relatives and was living in his van while holding a series of jobs as a food delivery person and disk jockey, investigators said. 

His white van was covered with pro-Trump and anti-Democrat stickers – including one showing cross-hairs across an image of Hillary Clinton.

The investigators said a laptop found in the van contained lists of addresses that matched those found on the bomb-carrying packages mailed from South Florida.