Cesar Altieri Sayoc Charged in 30-Count Indictment With Mailing Improvised Explosive Devices in Connection With Domestic Terrorist Attack

Cesar Altieri Sayoc, aka Cesar Randazzo, aka Cesar Altieri, and aka Cesar Altieri Randazzo, 56, was charged today in a 30-count Indictment for offenses relating to his alleged execution of a domestic terrorist attack in October 2018, which involved the mailing of 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 victims throughout the country. 

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office, and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

“According to court filings, Cesar Sayoc mailed 16 IEDs to more than a dozen victims throughout the country, including current and former elected leaders.  Less than five days after the first IED was discovered, he was tracked down and arrested, thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other law enforcement partners,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. 

“Cesar Sayoc allegedly targeted former high-ranking officials such as President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others, as well as CNN, by sending explosive packages to them through the U.S. Postal Service,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “Sayoc’s alleged conduct put numerous lives at risk.  It was also an assault on a nation that values the rule of law, a free press, and tolerance of differences without rancor or resort to violence.  Thanks to the diligent and determined work of our law enforcement partners here and across the country, it took just five days to identify and apprehend Sayoc and end his reign of terror.  He now faces justice from a nation of laws.”

 “As alleged, Cesar Sayoc deliberately targeted 13 individuals with 16 improvised explosive devices, attempting to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation from California to the eastern seaboard,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.  “Thanks to the seamless integration of FBI JTTFs across the country, working side-by-side with many other law enforcement agencies and first responders, his campaign of terror was brought to a rapid conclusion just five days after the discovery of the first device.  The FBI remains steadfast in our mission to protect the American public, and we will move with speed to bring justice to anyone seeking to harm our communities.”

“I commend everyone involved in investigating and prosecuting this case, particularly the agents and detectives on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, which includes 56 agencies and 300 individuals – 113 of them NYPD cops,” said Commissioner O’Neill.  “Standing shoulder to shoulder with the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Police, and others, we said from the outset that we would identify and bring to justice the person allegedly responsible for these acts.  We could make that promise because of our proven history of effective partnership.  The public’s vigilance also greatly assisted this investigation and helped lead to today’s 30-count indictment.  What is clear is that New Yorkers are always resilient in the face of threats – we refuse to back down, and we will never be deterred.”

According to the Indictment, Complaint, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings[1]

Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered 16 padded manila envelopes containing IEDs allegedly mailed by Sayoc from Florida to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Atlanta and California.  Sayoc’s alleged victims, listed alphabetically, were former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Cory Booker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Representative Maxine Walters.

Each of the 16 envelopes allegedly mailed by Sayoc had similar features, including the return addressee “Debbie Wasserman Shultz” at an address in “Florids,” six self-adhesive postage stamps bearing the American flag, and address labels printed on white paper with blank ink in similar typeface and font size.  Each of the 16 envelopes also contained an IED.  The 16 IEDs also had similar features, including approximately six inches of PVC pipe packed with explosive material, a small clock, and wiring.  Some of the IEDs also contained shards of glass. 

Preliminary analysis by the FBI has revealed forensic evidence linking 11 of the 16 mailings to Sayoc.  Specifically, latent fingerprints on two of the envelopes have been identified to Sayoc, and there are possible DNA associations between a DNA sample collected from Sayoc prior to his arrest in this case and DNA found on components from 10 of the IEDs (including one of the IEDs that was mailed in an envelope from which a latent fingerprint identified to Sayoc was recovered).

The FBI arrested Sayoc in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 26 – less than five days after the Oct. 22 recovery of the first IED, which Sayoc allegedly mailed to Soros in New York.  The FBI seized a laptop from Sayoc’s van in connection with the arrest that contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that Sayoc allegedly mailed.  The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of Sayoc’s first name: “Users/Ceasar/Documents.”  A document from that path, titled “Debbie W.docx” and bearing a creation date of July 26, contained repeated copies of an address for “Debbie W. Schultz” in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that Sayoc allegedly used on the packages.  Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name “Debbie,” and creation dates of Sept. 22, contain exact matches of the return address allegedly used by Sayoc on the 16 envelopes. 

Sayoc possessed a cellphone at the time of his arrest, and the FBI’s ongoing forensic analysis of the device has revealed additional evidence.  For example, Sayoc allegedly used the phone to conduct the following Internet searches, among others, on the dates indicated:

  • July 15: “hilary Clinton hime address”
  • July 26: “address Debbie wauserman Shultz”
  • Sept. 19: “address kamila harrias”
  • Sept. 26: “address for barack Obama”
  • Sept. 26: “michelle obama mailing address”
  • Sept. 26: “joseph biden jr”
  • Oct. 1: “address cory booker new jersey”
  • Oct. 20: “tom steyers mailing address”
  • Oct. 23: “address kamala harris”

Sayoc’s phone also contained photographs of some of the victims.

*                      *                      *

Sayoc, a U.S. citizen, is charged in the Indictment with 30 counts:  one count of six different offenses for each of the five IEDs that he allegedly mailed to Clinton, Brennan, Clapper, Soros and De Niro in the Southern District of New York.  In aggregate, the 30 counts in the Indictment carry a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment.  A chart providing more information regarding the charges and potential penalties is set forth below.  The statutory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Counts

Charge

Penalties Per Count

1 – 5

Using a weapon of mass destruction

Maximum per count: life

6 – 10

Interstate transportation of an explosive

Maximum per count: 20 years

11 – 15

Conveying a threat in interstate commerce

Maximum per count: 5 years

16 – 20

Unlawful use of mails

Maximum per count: 10 years

21 – 25

Carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony

Minimum for first conviction: 10 years

Minimum for additional convictions: 20 years

26 – 30

Using and carrying a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence

Maximum per count: life

Minimum for first conviction: 30 years

Minimum for additional convictions:
life

Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for its assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Emil J. Bove III, Jane Kim, and Jason A. Richman of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorneys David Cora and Kiersten Korczynski of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Author: November 9, 2018