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Accused pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc ordered held without bail

Sayoc has been accused of sending improvised explosive devices to numerous Democrats, Trump critics and CNN in a scare that heightened tensions before the midterms.

Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc in 2015.

Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc in 2015. Photo Credit: Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP

Accused serial pipe bomb suspect Cesar Altieri Sayoc was ordered held without bail Tuesday at his first court appearance in New York after authorities say he mailed improvised explosive devices to current and former Democratic elected officials.

Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, has been charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with interstate transportation and illegal mailing of explosives, threats to former presidents and certain other persons, threatening interstate communications, and assault on former and current federal officers.

Sayoc was arrested on Oct. 26 in Florida after authorities said he sent at least 15 improvised explosive devices through the mail to officials including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros and to the midtown Manhattan offices of the 24-hour news channel CNN.

Authorities allege they have matched DNA found on 10 of the devices to a sample on file from Sayoc. Additionally, authorities say latent fingerprints found on two of the packages match Sayoc's prints, according to charging documents. None of the bombs detonated, and no injuries were reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim on Tuesday asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Lehrburger to hold Sayoc in federal detention until his trial, saying he is a danger to the public and is a flight risk.

Sarah Baumgartel, a federal public defender assigned to Sayoc, did not make a bail application and waived a reading of the criminal complaint.

Sayoc, who on social media was supportive of President Donald Trump and critical of Democrats and the news media, walked into the 23rd-floor courtroom in lower Manhattan without handcuffs and wearing a navy blue shirt. His hair was pulled back in a low ponytail.

Sayoc said, “Yes, sir,” in response to questions from Lehrburger about whether he understood English and the charges against him. Sayoc raised his right hand and swore under the penalty of perjury that information he provided on an affidavit in application for publicly funded legal representation was correct.

Sayoc, at the conclusion of the nearly 15-minute hearing, hugged his attorney.

Baumgartel declined to comment after the hearing.

Sayoc appeared before a federal judge in Miami, before being transported to New York, where his case will be tried.

Lehrburger set a preliminary hearing for Monday, but advised Sayoc the hearing would be canceled if he is indicted by a federal grand jury before then.

Sayoc has a long criminal record, with nine arrests between 1991 and 2016 on charges such as grand theft, battery, fraud and possession of a controlled substance, according to records.

Sayoc was arrested in 2002 on charges of threatening to bomb a Florida utilities company, saying "it would be worse than September 11th,” according to court documents.

The pipe bombs allegedly mailed by Sayoc were "largely similar" in design and construction, containing about six inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, a battery, wiring and energetic material, according to court documents.

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