Florida man who sent explosives to Trump critics sentenced to 20 years

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A Florida man who mailed pipes filled with explosives to prominent Democrats and critics of US President Donald Trump was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday.

Cesar Sayoc, 57, who pleaded guilty in March to using weapons of mass destruction and other crimes, began crying when US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan read the sentence.

Prosecutors have described Sayoc in court filings as the mastermind of a “two-week terrorist attack” motivated by “hate-filled ideology.” They had asked Rakoff to sentence him to life in prison, saying he is dangerous to the public.

“The defendant here set out to terrorize people,” said Assistant US Attorney Jane Kim, before Sayoc was sentenced.

Sayoc expressed remorse shortly before the sentencing. “I am so very sorry for what I did,” he said.

Sayoc’s lawyers have portrayed their client as “kind-hearted and eager to please,” but said he suffered from severe learning disabilities, childhood abuse and steroid use that left him isolated and paranoid.

“In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump,” his lawyers said. At the time he was arrested in October, they said, Sayoc was living in his van and had become preoccupied with conspiracy theories spread on social media about Trump’s opponents.

“The combination of his cognitive deficiencies, steroid-induced delusional thinking, political naiveté and his isolation resulted in Mr. Sayoc being unable to critically evaluate these claims,” they said.

They had asked Rakoff to sentence their client to just over the legal minimum sentence of 10 years.

Sayoc sent packages containing pipes stuffed with explosives, wires and alarm clocks to 16 intended targets, including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, actor Robert De Niro and CNN.

All of the devices were intercepted and none exploded.

A report by federal investigators concluded the devices Sayoc sent had no mechanism to trigger an explosion and would not have worked as bombs.

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