MAGA mail bomber Cesar Sayoc was sentenced to 20 years prison in Manhattan federal court on Monday for mailing a series of pipe bombs to prominent liberals and others in the weeks before the 2018 midterms.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff gave Sayoc a sentence significantly below the federal guideline, which recommended a term of life imprisonment plus 10 years.
In making the decision, Rakoff appears to have given weight to defense arguments that Sayoc did not intend for the bombs he sent to detonate. Reports from the courthouse indicate that the judge found that Sayoc made “a conscious choice” not to create pipe bombs that were capable of exploding.
Sayoc launched his fear campaign in October 2018 by sending pipe bombs to 13 prominent liberals and news organizations around the country, before he was arrested in South Florida.
Rakoff said that the pipe bombs were intended to cause “fear and terror” while calling the campaign a series of “horrific acts of domestic terrorism.”
Sayoc had apologized to the court, reportedly calling himself a “sick man” while expressing regret for his actions.
“Now that I am a sober man, I know that I am a very sick man,” he reportedly said. “I know I should have listened to my mother, the love of my life.”
Upon his arrest, Sayoc was found to have been living in a van plastered with pro-Trump stickers and art. His social media accounts revealed an obsession with the President, as Sayoc threatened his opponents online.
Sayoc’s defense attorneys had contended that amid a life outcast from society, he “found light in Donald J. Trump.” In an argument for 10 years 1 month behind bars – a lenient sentence – the defense said that Sayoc’s steroid-addled mind was further addled by Trump’s extremist rhetoric.
“We believe that the President’s rhetoric contributed to Mr. Sayoc’s actions in this offense,” one defense attorney told the judge at sentencing.
Reports from the courthouse indicate that Rakoff was skeptical of that line of argument before sentencing, replying that “correlation and causation are two very different things,” and later calling it a “sideshow.”
But in announcing the sentence, Rakoff appeared to give the argument slightly more weight. He said that the “unfortunate circumstances” that the defense enumerated – including steroid abuse, an absent father, and sexual assault at a young age – should be taken into account “within modest limits.”
Prosecutors had pushed for the guidelines sentence of life in prison in the case.