"MAGA Bomber" Cesar Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday for sending 16 mail bombs to 13 people around the United States last year, including leading critics of President Donald Trump such as former President Barack Obama, ex-Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actor Robert De Niro and financier George Soros.
"I am beyond so very sorry for what I did," Sayoc said before he was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan by Judge Jed Rakoff, according to the Courthouse News Service.
"Now that I am a sober man, I know that I was a very sick man," Sayoc reportedly said. "I wish more than anything that I could turn back time and take back what I did ... I feel the pain and suffering of these victims."
But Rakoff said, "The nature and circumstances of the instant offenses are, by any measure, horrendous."
"While none of the devices exploded ... at the very least they were intended to strike fear and terror into the minds of their victims and to intimidate those victims, mostly prominent political figures, from exercising their freedom."
Rakoff noted that Sayoc, even if he proves to be a model prison, "will be about 75 years old before he can be released."
"No one can pretend this is not, in real terms, substantial punishment; but in the Court's view, it is no more, and no less, than [what] he deserves," Rakoff said.
Sayoc, a 57-year-old Florida resident whose own lawyers called him "a Donald Trump super-fan," pleaded guilty on March 21 to 65 criminal counts, which included using weapons of mass destruction and illegal mailing of explosives with intent to kill or injure. Prosecutors said Sayoc's crimes amounts to a "domestic terrorist attack."
Prosecutors had asked Rakoff to sentence the former exotic dancer and steroid abuser to life in prison for the mail bombing spree.
Sayoc's other intended targets including news network CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Tom Steyer, a billionaire now running for the Democratic presidential nomination with Booker and Harris.
The packages carried a return address of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., former chief of the Democratic National Committee.
None of the homemade bombs exploded, and "would not have functioned as designed," according to prosecutors.
But they noted that Sayoc packed PVC pipes with explosive powder and glass shards, along with pool chemicals to "increase the chances of burning the skin of" his targets.
"The defendant's terrorist attack was the culmination of years of violent and hate-filled threats, months of planning, and days of carefully assembling the explosive mailings while proudly monitoring media coverage of the widespread panic he induced," prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum filing July 22.
"It is clear that the defendant perpetrated this attack intending to injure and silence public servants and private citizens based on their civic activities, and to intimidate like-minded people from entering the public arena and participating in discourse that is critical to the proper functioning of this country."
Sayoc's lawyers had asked that he be sentenced to just 10 years in prison, the mandatory minimum for his crimes.
In their own sentencing submission, defense lawyers wrote that, "a series of traumatic events pushed Cesar Sayoc further and further into the margins of society."
Those events included being abandoned by his father as a boy, being sexually abused by a teacher at his Catholic school and losing "everything in the Great Recession."
"As a man, he became increasingly estranged from his family and dependent on drugs, particularly steroids," Sayoc's lawyers wrote.
"By 2018, he was living alone in a decrepit and cramped van that had been his home for more than a decade. A typical day saw Mr. Sayoc waking up in his van, showering at the gym, and cooking crockpot meals while inside the DJ booth of a strip club before heading off to his second job delivering pizza. As he grew older and more isolated, excessive steroid use increased his feelings of anxiety and paranoia."
Defense lawyers wrote that "in this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump."
They said his "infatuation" with the president included watching Fox News "religiously" during his gym visits, and supporting Trump on social media and at rallies.
"Through these actions, Mr. Sayoc found the sense of community that he had been missing for so many years. Mr. Sayoc was enthusiastic and credulous. Because of his cognitive limitations and mental illness, he believed outlandish reports in the news and on social media, which increasingly made him unhinged," his lawyers wrote.
"He became obsessed with 'attacks' from those he perceived as Trump's enemies. He believed stories shared on Facebook that Trump supporters were being beaten in the streets. He came to believe that he was being personally targeted for supporting Trump."
Sayoc was arrested Oct. 26 in Florida, two days after the Secret Service said explosive devices addressed to Obama and Clinton had been intercepted, and after the Time Warner Center was evacuated due to the discovery of another bomb sent to CNN, whose headquarters are in that Manhattan building.
At the time of his arrest, police seized a van that had been parked outside an AutoZone store in Plantation, Florida. Sayoc had been living in the van, which was was plastered with stickers carrying Trump's name and the presidential seal, along with images of opponents of Trump with crosshairs over their faces.
Days after Sayoc's arrest, Trump in a series of tweets claimed that "Fake News" was causing "great anger in our Country.
"The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country," Trump wrote. "Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!"
Read Judge Jed Rakoff's sentencing decision on Cesar Sayoc here