Cesar Sayoc, the man who was arrested for allegedly mailing pipe bombs to influential Democratic figures and vocal Trump critics, appeared in court at 2 p.m. Monday, and his charges were finalized

By Maura Hohman
October 29, 2018 04:39 PM
Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc
AP/REX/Shutterstock

Cesar Sayoc, the man who was arrested for allegedly mailing pipe bombs to influential Democratic figures and vocal Trump critics, appeared for the first time in court at 2 p.m. Monday in Miami.

The hearing dealt with two major issues at the center of Sayoc’s case, according to his attorney Jamie Benjamin. The first is whether the suspect is eligible for bond and the second addresses the complaint brought against him in the Southern District of New York. Prosecutors asked the suspect remain in detention without bail. He has yet to be formally charged with a crime.

Sayoc’s detention hearing, regarding the bond issue, and a status conference on the removal hearing, regarding whether he should be tried in New York, are set for Friday.

According to the complaint filed against Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, he is facing charges of five federal crimes: interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former Presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers. He is facing up to 48 years in prison.

“It’s so early on in the case. There’s so many things that need to be done to protect his constitutional rights and make sure they’re not being violated,” Benjamin tells PEOPLE. “We also don’t know what evidence there is against this defendant … Right now, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s guilty, and they’re far from that.”

The appearance came on the same day a 15th package was intercepted at a mailing facility in Georgia. It was addressed to the CNN headquarters in Atlanta and there’s no longer any threat to the area, according to CNN.

RELATED: Donald Trump Jr. Likes Tweet Promoting False Conspiracy Theory That Bombs Were Fake

Of the 15 packages authorities have intercepted, notable addressees include former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, former Vice President Joe Biden, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Rep. Maxine Waters.

None of the bombs ever detonated and no one was injured. Law enforcement officials said Sayoc had a list of more than 100 influential progressive figures whom he intended to bomb.

According to CNN, when Sayoc was arrested in Plantation, Florida, on Friday, he told authorities the devices were not intended to hurt anyone and weren’t actually capable of doing so. But FBI Director  Christopher Wray denied this claim, saying that while experts were “still analyzing the devices in our laboratory, these are not hoax devices.”

The suspect allegedly built the bombs in a white van covered with Trump 2020 stickers and others with conservative mantras on them. Investigators found soldering equipment, stamps, envelopes, paper, a printer and powder inside the vehicle, CNN reported. It’s believed Sayoc was living in his van at the time.

RELATED: All the Times Donald Trump Has Insulted the Targets of Attempted Pipe Bomb Attacks

The suspect has been arrested numerous times in the past, including for a bomb threat in 2002, to which he pleaded guilty, according to the Washington Post. The outlet also reported that a source indicated the suspect lives near the Florida facility where the packages were mailed.

After the FBI initially announced a suspect had been taken into custody, President Trump said at a White House event, “We will prosecute them, him, her, whoever it may be, to the fullest extent of the law.” He added, “We must never allow political violence to take root in America and I’m committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it and stop it now.”

On Wednesday afternoon, explosive devices were intercepted before reaching Clinton, Obama and Holder. A device addressed to former CIA chief John Brennan was delivered to CNN’s New York headquarters and prompted an evacuation.

RELATED: Suspicious Package Sent to Robert De Niro at N.Y.C. Office After Pipe Bombs Mailed to Other Dems

Days earlier, an explosive device was found in the mailbox of liberal philanthropist George Soros. And on Thursday, the FBI confirmed on Twitter that two suspicious packages addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden “similar in appearance” to the others had been intercepted at mail facilities in Delaware. One was found at a postal center in New Castle, the Associated Press reported, and the other at a facility in Wilmington.

California Rep. Maxine Waters and actor Robert De Niro were also sent packages on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and the FBI confirmed on Friday two more suspicious packages were addressed to Democratic New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker and James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, at CNN’s office.

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