Cesar Sayoc: Man With Troubled Past, Childish Behavior

AVENTURA, FL — Court documents reveal that the suspect in the terror-by-mail plot that targeted prominent Democrats and ex-officials of the Obama administration, had a troubled past, even threatening to blow up a Florida Power & Light office in Miami back in 2002. Fifty-six-year-old Cesar Sayoc of Aventura, Florida, was described by an attorney who once represented him as charismatic, childish and immature.

For years, Sayoc was not political and never voted in elections, according to Miami attorney Ronald Scott Lowy appearing on Saturday’s “Good Morning America”

“He was charismatic. He seemed very immature, very young,” said Lowy. “His thinking process seemed limited. He was not a difficult client. He got himself into difficult problems, for what I saw was childish behavior, whether it was falsifying an identification I.D. card and changing the year of his birth, a shoplifting case and even the case where he was charged with threatening FPL, saying that he was going to blow it up.”

Court documents obtained by Patch show that Sayoc allegedly threatened the power company’s office at 4200 West Flagler Street by telephone, saying “it would be worse than Sept. 11″ and that something would happen to the FPL representative if they cut his electricity.”

The Broward Sheriff’s Office also confirmed that Sayoc had been arrested in nearby Broward County as recently as 2015. He had a history of mostly minor offenses in both counties dating back to the 1990s.

The attorney said Sayoc became estranged from his family over the years and seemed to be searching for a father figure since his birth father moved back to the Philippines and never had any contact with him growing up.

“He became estranged from his family. He wasn’t even political then. As a matter of fact — according to his mom, his sisters — he never voted in an election to their knowledge, and she was unaware he even got a voter’s card finally in 2016.”

Sayoc even fantasized about being descended from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, according to Lowy.

“I think at some early age he began to fantasize that he had a background that he was a Seminole Indian, a native American, and he wanted an identity,” the lawyer explained. “He wanted a father figure, and he finally apparently found the father figure in 2016.”

That figure just happened to be then presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to Lowy.

Court documents indicate that Sayoc filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in 2012. He was represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney Christian J. Olson in that matter. Court documents said at the time that Sayoc lived with his mother in the 18100 block of NE 31 Court. He listed $21,109 in outstanding unsecured debt.

Live pictures from news helicopters on Friday showed what appeared to be a white van covered with a blue tarp in an Auto Zone parking lot at 801 South State Road 7 in Plantation, Florida. The side windows of the van were covered with a number of decals that appeared to indicate support for President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. FBI agents could be seen taking the van away on a flatbed tow truck a short time later. The van was escorted by unmarked pickup trucks as it made its way along a Broward County highway.

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The caravan arrived at the FBI headquarters in Miramar around 12:30 p.m. just as President Trump was making remarks in Washington, D.C. He compared the investigation to finding a needle in a haystack.

“I am pleased to inform you that law enforcement has apprehended the suspect and taken him into custody,” the president said to cheers. He promised that the suspect would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

See Cesar Sayoc Worked As A Road Manager For Chippendales Male Strippers

A number of reporters were gathered outside of Sayoc’s Aventura high rise where he lived with his mother on Friday as news of the arrest gripped the suburban community not far from the Florida beaches around Miami.

“It’s a little too close to home,” said one woman out for a walk with a friend, who asked not to be identified.

At a nearby Publix grocery store, one employee told Patch that she remembered possibly seeing Sayoc around the store but couldn’t remember anything that stood out about him.

According to court documents obtained by Patch through the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, Sayoc placed the threatening call to FPL at 11:04 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2002.

Then FPL customer service representative Leslie Rodriguez spoke with Sayoc. Rodriguez could see the phone number that Sayoc was calling from as well as the matching FPL account associated with the phone number.

“Defendant verified he was the caller, verified his Social (Security Number),” according to the documents. “Defendant was upset over an amount that he was being billed for. Defendant then stated that he didn’t deserve it and that he was going to blow up FPL.”

Rodriguez pressed what prosecutors described as an emergency button that began recording the conversation.

“Defendant proceeded to go on and say, ‘FPL will get what they deserve and will be worse than 9/11,” according to the court documents.

Rodriguez tried to calm him down, saying that he didn’t want to make threats like that.

“Defendant stated that he doesn’t make threats, that he makes promises,” court documents explained.

Sayoc then redirected his anger toward customer service representative Rodriguez.

“At the end of the phone call, defendant stated that he was going to blow her head off,” court documents added.

Sayoc later told two Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers and a third person in a taped statement that he placed the call to FPL. But Sayoc refused to give another statement once he had been advised of his rights.

Court records in Miami-Dade County suggest that Sayoc’s fingerprints were placed on file in November 2002. This may have been the reason federal investigators were able to get a match when they found a fingerprint on one of the envelope packages during the investigation into the bomb plot.

A finding of guilt order was entered into the Miami-Dade court record on Dec. 3, 2002. Sayoc appears to have been placed on a one-year probation starting on Nov. 12, 2002. A motion to terminate the probation was granted on June 11, 2003.

Florida police confirmed Thursday night that federal investigators were focusing on a potential link between the terror-by-mail plot and a Miami area mail facility. ABC News and other news organizations reported late Friday morning that a suspect was taken into custody in the Miami area and that officials were planning to disclose additional details at a 2:30 p.m. news conference.

“Our Bomb Squad and K-9 unit are currently providing assistance to our federal partners at the @USPS Opa-Locka mail facility as part of the ongoing investigation into suspicious packages located in other jurisdictions,” explained Detective Argemis Colome of the Miami-Dade Police Department on Thursday night.

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that he had been briefed on the investigation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Three more suspicious packages were discovered Friday, including those addressed to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker; former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, who served in the Obama administration; and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris. A package addressed to Tom Steyer, the billionnaire activist who is bankrolling an effort to impeach President Trump, was intercepted at a mail facility in California, but it had not been confirmed as related by mid-afternoon Friday.

Investigators scrambled from coast to coast Friday to locate the culprit and motives behind a bizarre plot aimed at critics of President Donald Trump. The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper c/o CNN. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan in care of CNN in New York. A third package addressed to Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, was intercepted in Sacramento, according to The New York Times.

The discoveries brought to 13 the total number of devices addressed in recent days to Democratic figures including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

See Joe Biden, Robert De Niro Latest Targeted In Terror-By-Mail Bombs

Colome called the presence of the bomb squad a “precautionary measure” at the The Royal Palm Processing and Distribution Center in Opa-Locka, Florida, not far from Miami. The facility is located at 5500 NW 142 Street.

“We cannot provide additional information at this time due to the active nature of this federal investigation,” Colome added Thursday night.

Postal inspectors had been searching mail facilities for similar packages matching all week.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz got emotional as she briefly talked about her name appearing in the return address on suspicious packages sent to prominent critics of President Donald Trump.

One of the packages was delivered to her Florida office Wednesday when it was returned by the Postal Service. Her name was misspelled on the return label. It was addressed to Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General under President Barack Obama.

Speaking at a Fort Lauderdale-area synagogue during a campaign event earlier Thursday, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee said her staff handled the threat with bravery as her voiced filled with emotion.

“We will never be cowed into submission by people who hate,” she told the audience. “Never, never.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cesar Sayoc booking photo from an August 2015 arrest courtesy Broward Sheriff’s Office

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