The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Cesar Sayoc, accused of mailing bombs to Trump’s critics, is expected to plead guilty

Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man accused of mailing possible package bombs to prominent critics of President Trump across the country, is likely to plead guilty to federal charges next week, a court docket entry suggests.

The entry in Sayoc’s criminal case in the Southern District of New York says that a March 21 pretrial conference has been changed to a “plea” — an indication that Sayoc is likely to admit guilt. It is not clear to what charges Sayoc may plead guilty, and such agreements can collapse before they are finalized in court.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment beyond confirming the publicly available court record. Sayoc’s defense attorney did not return a message.

‘He felt that somebody was finally talking to him’: How the package-bomb suspect found inspiration in Trump

Sayoc, 56, who had been living in a van in Aventura, Fla., was charged in November in a 30-count indictment with, among other things, using a weapon of mass destruction, illegal mailing of explosives and threatening interstate communications. He faces possible life in prison, if convicted.

Authorities accused Sayoc of mailing 16 possible package bombs to the president’s critics across the country, including former president Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and others. None of the devices exploded, though the FBI director has said they were not hoaxes.

The mailers sparked fear across the country when they were discovered in October — with liberals and conservatives both accusing the other side of increasing the political rancor to dangerous levels. The devices that were found seemed to represent a fraction of what authorities said Sayoc planned to send. Prosecutors alleged that the former DJ and strip club bouncer had a list of more than 100 possible targets and planned for months for what authorities deemed a “domestic terrorist attack.”

Family members and associates have said Sayoc was a troubled man who struggled with mental illness and had frequent run-ins with law enforcement. He worked at strip clubs, dabbled in body building and spent much of the past decade living out of his van — which, when he was arrested, was covered in decals supportive of Trump.

A former lawyer for Sayoc said previously that his client seemed to find a sense of identity and purpose in supporting the president and attacking his foes. Sayoc lashed out at Trump’s opponents on Twitter and seemed to harbor particular disdain for Hollywood and the media.

The FBI linked Sayoc to the devices via fingerprints and a possible DNA match, and investigators found that he ran Web searches of those he targeted, authorities have said. He was arrested in October, though even after he was in custody, authorities found packages that he had allegedly put into the mail system.