MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – The man accused of sending package bombs to critics of President Trump appeared before a judge Monday in Miami federal court.
Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, is expected to stand trial on five federal crimes: interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former Presidents and other persons, threatening interstate communications and assaulting current and former federal officers.
During Monday’s hearing, a federal Judge Edwin Torres formally advised him of the charges, read him his rights and set a bond hearing for Friday. At that time, the court will also take up moving the case to New York where the criminal complaint was filed.
Sayoc could be sentenced to a maximum of nearly 50 years in prison if convicted.
Attorney Daniel Aaronson conceded after court that the case will be moved to New York but that Sayoc is entitled to a hearing in Miami to see if he will get bail while awaiting trial.
Aaronson said Sayoc is presumed innocent.
“He remains innocent. Nobody has been able to, in a court of law, say that those were bombs that he said that he sent,” Aaronson said
In a packed, standing room only courtroom, some observers said Sayoc choked up for a moment. Miami attorney David Weinstein was among those who had come to watch the preceding.
“He made eye contact with somebody who is sitting in the back of the courtroom, and he started tearing up while he was still in the box,“ Weinstein said.
It turns out, Sayoc’s sister was standing in the back of the courtroom.
Sayoc also appeared to say “I love you” in the exchange.
Ron Lowy is an attorney for Sayoc’s mother.
Over the phone, he told CBS4, that’s the first time the suspect ever told his sister he loved her.
Sayoc spoke little during the brief hearing. He told Judge Torres his name when asked and replied “yes” when asked if he knew why he was there.
Judge Torres ordered that Sayoc be able to meet with his attorneys in an interview room after they complained that they had only been able to speak with him by phone through a glass partition.
Aaronson is, apparently working for no fee, decline to say what Sayoc may have told them.
“What he says to us, any one of us, is something you will never know,“ said attorney Daniel Aaronson of the Fort Lauderdale firm Benjamin, Aaronson and Patanzo.
Just hours before the hearing, bomb squads were called to check out another suspicious parcel in Atlanta.
The FBI did not identify to whom the most recent package was addressed, but CNN President Jeff Zucker announced that a suspicious package addressed to the cable television network and it was intercepted at a post office.
The package appears identical to the other packages authorities say were sent by Sayoc.
Authorities did not immediately say who might be responsible for sending the most recent package sent to CNN, but law enforcement officials have said they believe the packages were staggered and more could be discovered.
Sayoc, an aspiring bodybuilder and avid Trump supporter, is accused of sending 14 explosive devices through the mail.
Among his alleged targets were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Rep. Maxine Waters.
CBS News confirmed that Cesar Sayoc had a list of more than 100 people to whom he intended to send packages. Officials say he was working through that list which included individuals we have reported were sent packages.
On that list were members of the media and left-leaning politicians. It was found inside his van.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force is notifying the people on the list.
Hours before his arrest last Friday in Plantation, Sayoc was playing music sets at a strip club where he had worked for two months. He had previously worked as a male dancer for several years and more recently as a pizza driver.
His former boss Debra Gureghian, who manages New River Pizza in Fort Lauderdale, said she didn’t think this would happen.
“Never in a million years did I think this would play out,” she said.
“He’s done everything from trying to operate a laundromat, to being a DJ, a bouncer, a dancer, a pizza man, you name it,” said Ron Lowy, an attorney representing Sayoc’s family. “Though his views and political rhetoric seemed off-putting, people who knew him said he wasn’t capable of violence.”
Sayoc told investigators after he was arrested on Friday that the pipe bombs wouldn’t have hurt anyone and that he didn’t want to hurt anyone, according to a law enforcement official.
But federal authorities say the bombs Sayoc allegedly sent were real and a danger to their recipients.
Investigators believe that Sayoc made the pipe bombs in his white Dodge van. Inside the vehicle were soldering equipment, stamps, envelopes, paper, a printer, and powder, the sources said.
In 2002, Lowy represented Sayoc in a felony case after he was arrested for reportedly threatening to blow up Florida Power and Light if they cut off the electricity to his laundromat.
Records show he threatened to make it “bigger than 9/11.”
“The judge looked at him, look at the prosecutor, and they saw this wasn’t an individual who doesn’t have that capacity and they put him on probation,” Lowy said.
Court records show he had been arrested at least nine times, mostly in Florida, for accusations of grand theft, battery, fraud, drug possession, and probation violations.
Sayoc’s estranged family pleaded with him Sunday to accept mental health care and hire a proficient lawyer to represent him in the case, according to a New York Times report.
(©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)