A Florida amateur body builder who admitted sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday Aug. 5, by a judge who concluded the bombs purposely were not designed to explode.
Cesar Sayoc, 57, wept and crossed himself, appearing relieved, when U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff announced the sentence.
Prosecutors had urged a life prison term for Sayoc, who pleaded guilty earlier this year after mailing 16 pipe bombs days before the midterm elections last fall.
“He hated his victims, he wished them no good, but he was not so lost as to wish them dead, at least not by his own hand,” the judge said.
The one-time stripper and pizza delivery man from Aventura, Florida, apologized to his victims, saying he was “so very sorry for what I did.”
His targets included Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, several members of Congress, former President Barack Obama and actor Robert De Niro. the devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta.
Sayoc read from a handwritten statement shortly before he was sentenced, saying he blamed a life of mental illness, a childhood sexual assault he suffered from a boarding school teacher, excessive use of steroids and his failure to listen to his mother, “the love of my life.”
“I was in deep denial. I understand now that I have committed a very serious crime,” Sayoc said.
“I wish more than anything I could turn back time and take back what I did,” he added. “With all my heart and soul, I feel the pain and suffering of these victims and I will be apologizing to them for the rest of my life.”
Prior to hearing from lawyers, Rakoff questioned two bomb experts and two doctors who examined Sayoc.
The bomb experts, one an FBI agent, and one hired by the defense, agreed Sayoc’s packages were not configured to explode. As the judge noted, the clocks were not set and wires were not attached.
The psychiatric experts who examined Sayoc at the request of the defense agreed that steroids influenced his behavior, particularly his delusions and obsessions.
In all, 16 rudimentary pipe bombs were mailed to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, California, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia. None exploded.
In letters to the judge, Sayoc said he abused steroids for more than four decades and was using 274 different supplements and vitamins along with “heavy amounts of steroids” before his arrest.
He was living in his van when arrested in late October.
Includes reporting from The Associated Press