Pipe bomb suspect agrees to NY transfer, no bail
MIAMI (AP) — The suspect accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Trump agreed Friday to be transferred to New York to face charges, while the FBI said an additional package was found addressed to Democratic billionaire donor Tom Steyer.
Attorneys for Cesar Sayoc said Friday in Miami federal court that it’s better if his lawyers in New York can take the case as soon as possible. They could still seek a bail hearing there, but prosecutors say he should remain jailed, given the magnitude of the charges and the strong evidence against him.
“We wanted to make sure that all of his constitutional rights were preserved,” said attorney James Benjamin after the hearing. “We feel we’ve done all we can.”
Sayoc has been accused of sending 15 improvised explosive devices to numerous Democrats, Trump critics and media outlets.
The FBI said Friday an additional package similar to the earlier ones was recovered at a postal facility near San Francisco. The package discovered late Thursday was the second addressed to Steyer, who has done TV ads calling for Trump’s impeachment. None of the packages have exploded and no one was injured.
The timing of Sayoc’s transfer is uncertain. It can happen quickly or take weeks, and is not usually announced ahead of time by the U.S. Marshals Service, Benjamin said. Even defense lawyers are not informed.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. “The government wants to get him up there as soon as they can.”
Prosecutors left court without speaking to reporters.
Sayoc was arrested a week ago outside a South Florida auto parts store in a white van in which he had been living, a vehicle covered with stickers of Trump and showing images of some of the president’s opponents with red crosshairs over their faces.
Sayoc faces nearly 50 years in prison if convicted on five federal charges that were filed in New York because some of the devices were recovered there.
Sayoc’s lawyers decided not to seek release on bail after prosecutors released a letter outlining more evidence against him, including DNA linking him to 10 of the explosive devices and fingerprints on two of them.
Other evidence includes online searches Sayoc did on his laptop and cellphone for addresses and photos of some of his intended targets, which included former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Packages were also mailed to CNN in New York and Atlanta.
The laptop also has a file with the address in Sunrise, Florida, of the office of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. That office was used as the return address on the packages containing the pipe bombs, according to the FBI. The computer file was labeled “Debbie W.docx”.
Benjamin, however, said the prosecution letter does not prove anything yet. He noted that it refers to “possible” DNA matches to Sayoc.
“The word flimsy actually still applies,” Benjamin told reporters. “We can’t do anything but speculate now. And it’s too early.”
Mike Balsamo in Washington contributed.
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