WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hours before his arrest, Cesar Sayoc was playing music sets at a Florida strip club.
Few there were aware of his political views.
“He was a nice guy,” Stacy Saccal, the club’s general manager, told WPTV. “He would make jokes, just funny.”
At least four times a week over the past two months, the 56-year-old parked his white Dodge van plastered with stickers supporting President Donald Trump and depicting some of Trump’s critics with targets over their images near the Ultra Gentlemen’s Club in West Palm Beach. Sometimes he would work as a DJ and others as a bouncer.
Sayoc was arrested Friday after federal authorities said he sent 14 pipe bombs through the US mail to prominent Democrats around the country. None of the bombs detonated, and no one was injured. He’s facing federal charges and could receive up to 48 years in prison if convicted.
As the investigation continues, here’s what we have learned about the suspected bombmaker.
He is a bodybuilder and former male dancer
Sayoc, of Aventura, Florida, is a bodybuilder who worked as a male dancer for several years and most recently as a pizza driver.
On his LinkedIn account, Sayoc described himself as a choreographer and booking agent for male strippers and burlesque shows.
On Twitter, he said he is a “Current Booking Agent/Sales/Marketing/Promotions/Project Mgr Live Events” at Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International said there was “no evidence” the suspect is or was a member or was employed by any of the three groups. They also said they could not immediately “verify if he is or was an employee of a vendor company.”
A cousin, Lenny Altieri, said Sayoc went to good schools and was well-educated. “Brains and common sense are not synonymous,” he said.
Sayoc attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 1983 to 1984 but did not graduate, the school’s communications office said. He was an undeclared major who played on the soccer team.
He also went to Brevard College in North Carolina, a school spokeswoman said. He enrolled at Brevard in fall 1980 and attended classes there for three semesters but didn’t graduate.
He used to deliver food for a pizza restaurant in Fort Lauderdale until he quit in January. He said he had gotten a job driving a hazardous waste truck in North Carolina, manager Debra Gureghian said.
He appeared to be living in his van
He appears to have been estranged from his family for several years.
A 2012 bankruptcy filing in Florida indicated that Sayoc “lives with his mom, owns no furniture.” The 46-page filing, signed by Sayoc in June 2012, lists total assets of $4,175 and liabilities of $21,109.
But an attorney representing Sayoc’s family said he has not visited his mom’s condo in Aventura for at least three years.
His mother and sisters had urged him to seek medical treatment because he struggled with “a lack of comprehension of reality,” attorney Ronald S. Lowy said.
“He thinks there’s nothing wrong with him,” Lowy said in a telephone interview, shortly after meeting with the suspect’s family on Friday.
He said Sayoc’s mother, who underwent surgery Friday, “can’t understand his behavior or views.”
Lowy, the family attorney, said Sayoc’s father is Filipino and his mother is Italian. He said Sayoc was not politically active when he met him.
It appears that he was kicked out by his parents and had been living in the white Dodge van where he was found Friday, a law enforcement official said.
Investigators believe that Sayoc made the pipe bombs in that van, two law enforcement sources said. Inside that vehicle were soldering equipment, stamps, envelopes, paper, a printer and powder, the sources said.
He has a lengthy criminal history
Sayoc’s past is marked by encounters with law enforcement.
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.
In 2002, he was arrested after Miami police said he threatened to bomb a power company, saying “it would be worse than September 11th.”
“The defendant contacted a rep (from) Florida Power and Light Co. … by telephone and threatened to blow up FPL,” a Miami Police Department report about the incident said.
The caller “threatened to blow up the building if FP&L turned off his light,” the report said.
He pleaded guilty to the offense, records show, and was sentenced to one year of probation.
In 2014, he was arrested and later pleaded guilty to stealing copper pipes at a Home Depot, records show.
‘A model employee’ despite views on minorities, former boss says
Gureghian, general manager of New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, said Sayoc was open with her about his views. He calls himself a white supremacist and dislikes gays, African-Americans, Jews and anybody who isn’t white, she said.
Gureghian said Sayoc told her that lesbians like her and other minorities should be put on an island. And though he liked her, he told her she would burn in hell, she told CNN.
Even though she hated his political leanings, Gureghian said she didn’t fire him because he did his job and there were no complaints.
“He was a model employee,” she said, adding that she “can’t understand” how he would allegedly send mail bombs.
He posted anti-Muslim memes and slammed politicians
To some of his colleagues, Sayoc was not particularly involved in politics, but his social media accounts and his van tell a different story.
In 2016, Sayoc registered to vote as a Republican in Florida, and a Facebook video showed him in a “Make America Great Again” hat at a Trump rally.
He was prolific on his two Facebook accounts and three Twitter feeds, often posting provocative photos and memes attacking liberals.
He took on Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee in the Florida governor’s race, more than 80 times in October alone.
In other posts, Sayoc shared conspiracy theories, memes and articles slamming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in 2016.
On September 20, in response to a Trump tweet, Sayoc posted a self-shot video of himself at what appears to be a Trump rally.
The text of the tweet threatened former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder, both of whom were targeted by improvised explosive devices discovered this week.
“Go Trump Trump Trump hey Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. And Eric Himpton Holder Sr. Stick your BS all crap you talk where sun doesn’t shine . We will meet your threats right to your face soon.Not option we will see you soon .Hug loved ones real close we aren’t ones,” the tweet read.
But he spoke about bombs only twice on Twitter and the context of those posts isn’t entirely clear.
“Bomb squad here,” read the first tweet posted September 9.
“Unconquered Seminole Tribe Bomb squad,” read a second tweet posted minutes later.
Sayoc also posted virulently anti-Muslim memes and published the address of billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros, and photos of the homes of some others who later received bombs.
As recently as Wednesday, Sayoc posted a tweet that was critical of Soros, former President Barack Obama and others. A package to Soros had been recovered two days earlier.
And about two weeks ago, Sayoc tweeted at a political analyst.
“We will see you 4 sure.Hug your loved ones real close every time you leave you home,” the tweet said in part.
Rochelle Ritchie reported it as abuse, but Twitter said it wasn’t a violation of its rules.
A Facebook representative told CNN that the company had removed Sayoc’s account Friday. The rep said that several of Sayoc’s previous posts had violated Facebook’s community standards and had been removed before his arrest but that none of his posts reported to or discovered by Facebook contained violations of its rules severe enough to remove the account entirely.
Sayoc was not previously known to the Secret Service, law enforcement sources said.