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Mail bomb suspect praised Trump, criticized Democrats and news media

A still image from video of Cesar Sayoc

A still image from video of Cesar Sayoc being moved from FBI headquarters in Miramar, Fla. Credit: WPLG / Local 10

Mail bomb suspect Cesar Altieri Sayoc effusively praised President Donald Trump on social media and just as relentlessly criticized prominent Democrats and the news media. 

"Slime trash," the 56-year-old Aventura, Florida man called former Vice President Joe Biden on Twitter last month, attaching an apparent aerial photo of Biden's Delaware home. 

In another message, he called Trump the "greatest Commander Chief disruptor" while wishing him a happy birthday.

"CNN sucks," Sayoc wrote on Twitter in response to an Aug. 3 tweet from the president criticizing the news media. Sayoc included a photograph of himself at a Trump rally holding a sign criticizing the cable news channel. 

While authorities Friday declined to assign a motive to Sayoc's alleged crimes — sending 13 improvised explosive devices to former presidents, elected officials and other prominent people — Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned his politics when asked why he allegedly targeted Democrats. 

"I don't know other than what you might normally expect. He appears to be a partisan," Sessions said. 

Sayoc, a registered Republican who in addition to his penchant for sharp political attacks had an apparent passion for body building, has an extensive criminal record spanning a quarter century.

According to Florida state records, Sayoc was arrested nine times between 1991 and 2016 for offenses such as grand theft, battery, fraud and possession of a controlled substance. 

In 2002, he was arrested for threatening to bomb a Florida utilities company, saying "it would be worse than September 11th,” according to records and news reports. He pleaded guilty and received one year of probation. 

He could face 48 years in prison if convicted on five federal charges connected to the explosive devices, which were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Biden, several other   current and former officials, one care of CNN, and to the TriBeCa production company of Robert De Niro and to the upstate New York home of billionaire Democratic financier George Soros. 

On a LinkedIn page in his name, Sayoc described his work experience as a promoter and booker for live entertainment and a choreographer. He also references adult entertainment male dancing troupes. On his social media pages, he posted several photos of himself lifting weights.

Sayoc spent his early life on Mill Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, according to law enforcement sources. He graduated from high school in Florida, according to online records.

Sayoc, in rambling prose, describes his dream of being a "horse doctor," saying "always a love for animals, which were here first and never do anything to anyone." He also cites career accomplishments he attributes to his mother, who could not be reached for comment.

Sayoc attended Brevard College in North Carolina from 1980 to 1984, according to his LinkedIn page. A 1982 yearbook photo from the college showed a Cesar Sayoc, a member of the soccer team, posing on a grassy field. Sayoc wore a #12 on his team shirt. 

Attempts to reach any of Sayoc's other family members were unsuccessful Friday.

But a cousin told The New York Times that Sayoc was obsessed with body building and in the past had worked as a stripper at nightclubs in South Florida. 

As for Sayoc's political leanings, Lenny Altieri told The Times he was unaware of them. 

“That must have happened after Trump came along,” Altieri said. “Cesar was a cool cat at one point.”

Altieri added that Sayoc had “a lot of money but lost most of it.” 

Sayoc filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2012, according to court records.

Sayoc lived in Aventura, north of Miami, with his mother at the time and, according to his filing, worked as a store manager at Hassanco Investments in the nearby city of Hollywood, earning about $922 monthly after taxes.

In the filing he claimed assets of $4,175, including a Chevy Tahoe truck with more than 285,000 miles, and liabilities of $21,109.

He said he didn't own any home furniture in the documents, instead noting "lives w/mom. has no furniture."

On social media, Sayoc also posted about the Seminole American Indians, implying in some posts he was affiliated with the tribe. 

In a statement from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International on Friday, the tribe and its entities said it could "find no evidence" that Sayoc "is or was a member or employee of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, or is or was an employee of Seminole Gaming or Hard Rock International. At this time, we cannot verify if he is or was an employee of a vendor company."

A white van said to be Sayoc's that was towed by authorities from an Auto Zone parking lot in Plantation, Florida, after his arrest Friday morning, was festooned with photos of the president smiling and praise for his "landslide" election win, alongside others with crosshairs over the faces of Hillary Clinton and a tricycle-riding Obama.

Manuel Prado, a salon hairdresser at an Aventura shopping center, told The Times he had seen Sayoc for the last several years living in his white van in the parking lot. 

“I knew right away it was him when I saw the pictures of the van today in the news,” Prado. “That van was his home."

Prado said they never spoke: “He was very anti-social. He was a loner. I say hello to everyone here and he would never acknowledge anyone.”

With Laura Blasey and Anthony M. DeStefano

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