The suspect in a series of suspected explosive packages sent to prominent Democrats and others, Cesar Sayoc, has a long criminal past which includes a previous bomb threat. He faces up to 48 years in prison if convicted, according to the Department of Justice, which stressed that Sayoc is "innocent until proven guilty."
According to Miami-Dade County jail booking records, Sayoc, a 56-year-old registered Republican, was arrested in 2002 after phoning in a bomb threat to Florida Power and Light, telling him that if his power was shut off he would blow them up "worse than Sept. 11," while also threatening a FPL employee.
"I bet if I threatened to blow up your office you'd turn it back on quickly," Sayoc was quoted as saying by his then-attorney, Ronald S. Lowy, who told CNN that his client had no intention of making good on the threat. Sayoc was sentenced to one year of probation "and allowed to continue with his life," according to Lowy.
Records show a total of eight arrests, including on suspicion of grand theft, fraud, drug possession, battery and probation violations. He pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing copper pipes from a Hollywood, FL Home Depot after being charged with petty theft.
Sayoc was also reportedly kicked out of his parents' house and was living in his van, according to a CNN, citing a law enforcement official. A 2012 bankruptcy filing indicated that Sayoc "lives with his mom, owns no furniture." The filing listed assets of $4,175 and liabilities of $21,109.
In 1999, Sayoc was arrested in North Carolina on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle, however the charges were dismissed according to CNN.
Debra Gureghian, general manager of Fort Lauderdale New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen where he worked as a delivery driver for several months until he quit in January, said Sayoc was unhinged.
"He was crazed, that’s the best word for him," said Gureghian. "There was something really off with him."
Sayoc's now-infamous sticker-covered van was so disturbing that the restaurant required him to park it out of sight.
"It was puppets with their heads cut off, mannequins with their heads cut off, Ku Klux Klan, a black person being hung, anti-gay symbols, torchings, bombings you name it, it was all over his truck," said Gureghian - who added that Sayoc disturbed his co-workers with racist comments and texts.
"He was very angry and angry at the world, at blacks, Jews, gays," she said. "He always talked about ‘if I had complete autonomy none of these gays or these blacks would survive.’ He never said he would kill them or murder them or bomb them he just said ‘if I had complete autonomy the gays, the black and Jews would not survive.’ He was very, very strange."
Descent into madness
Using Google Street View and social media posts, 4chan users found what appears to be Sayoc's van in a Florida mall parking lot with text in the rear window matching that from Friday's photos. It is clear that the van was repainted sometime after August 2016. In December, 2017 the van was photographed with full pro-Trump / anti-Democrat stickers:
My co-producer @DavidCypkin took these pics December 2017 at The Shoppes at the Waterways in Aventura, Florida. The van was regularly parked overnight outside a kosher market over a 1+ year period. He believes it may be connected to the bomb suspect and has contacted @FBI. pic.twitter.com/zQaggIGrVB— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) October 26, 2018
More on Sayoc from CNN:
• He attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, according to the school's communications office. He was an undeclared major and played on the soccer team. Sayoc attended for one year and did not graduate.
• Sayoc was a student at Brevard College in North Carolina, school spokeswoman Christie Cauble told CNN. He enrolled at Brevard in fall 1980 and attended classes there for three semesters but didn't graduate, Cauble said.
• Sayoc was not previously known to the Secret Service, law enforcement sources said.
• He has ties to New York, a source said.
Lowy said Sayoc had "trouble conforming" and "didn't fit in." The lawyer said he was not surprised the explosive devices his client is accused of assembling and mailing did not explode. He questioned Sayoc's ability to successfully devise and execute such a scheme.
Sayoc was embroiled in petty offenses over time. In one case, Lowy said, Sayoc altered his driver's license to make himself appear younger. Sayoc had remained single and thought his age may be hurting him on the dating scene, the lawyer said. -CNN
"He was embarrassed about his age," Lowy said.
Sayoc frequented the gym and worked as a personal trainer at one point, Lowy said.
According to Sky News, Soyoc's LinkedIn page lists him as a promoter, booking agent, owner and coreographer of several businesses, including Chippendales male strippers. "Another photo shows a large advert for unofficial 'Real Magic Mike' experiences, complete with images of naked male torsos and flaming guitars, attached to the van US authorities towed away as part of their investigation."
Soyoc was also active on Twitter:
His most recent activity was a retweet of his own post of photo-shopped images attacking a Democrat midterm candidate and accusing him of being a George Soros puppet.
One of the 12 suspicious packages were sent to billionaire philanthropist Mr Soros.
Sayoc also posted a number of images urging people to vote Republican, including one which stated "Had Enough? Vote Republican" alongside an image of an American Bald Eagle. -Sky
In one tweet Sayoc supported ISIS:
He also called child activist and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg a "fake phony" paid by Soros, accusing Hogg of never attending the Florida high school attacked by shooter Nikolas Cruz in February.