Mail bomb suspect has ties to the Carolinas, played soccer at UNC Charlotte

The Florida man who was charged Friday in the spate of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump is a former UNC Charlotte soccer player who also attended a second North Carolina college.

Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., just north of Miami, was charged with interstate transportation of an explosive, illegal mailing of explosives, threats against former presidents, threatening interstate communications and assaulting federal officers, according to The Miami Herald.

A student by the same name attended UNC Charlotte in the 1983-84 school year but didn’t declare a major, UNCC spokeswoman Buffie Stephens said. He also played on the school’s soccer team. A team roster shows that Sayoc played in 11 games in 1983, starting seven of them but scoring no goals.

In this undated photo released by the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Cesar Sayoc is seen in a booking photo, in Miami. Federal authorities took Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Fla., into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said. Broward County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Records show that Sayoc was charged in 1999, while living in Matthews, with possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The charge was dismissed.

FBI director Chris Wray told reporters Friday that the packages sent to former President Barack Obama and 12 other officials contained a length of pipe, small clock, wiring, battery and “energetic materials,” a term that includes explosives.

“These are not hoax devices,” Wray said.

Investigators found a fingerprint matching Sayoc’s on an envelope sent to Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, Wray said.

President Donald Trump, who will appear at a rally in Charlotte on Friday night, tweeted congratulations to investigators “for their incredible work, skill and determination!”

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Sayoc has a history of criminal charges in Florida, records show.

He pleaded no contest to grand theft in Broward County in 2014, records show, and was sentenced to 12 months of probation. He entered the same plea to a misdemeanor battery charge on the same date. Sayoc was arrested later in 2014 on a misdemeanor theft charge, again pleading no contest.

Records show that in 2004 Sayoc pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a driver’s license and criminal use of personal identification information. He pleaded guilty to third-degree grand theft in 1991 and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

Sayoc was arrested in Miami-Dade County in 2002 for making a bomb threat and was sentenced to one year of probation, the Miami Herald reported.

The Herald reported that Sayoc was a registered Republican as of 2016. Photos on his Facebook page show Sayoc wearing a red Make America Great Again cap, the Herald reported.

The Twitter feed of Cesar Altieri, Sayoc’s first and middle names, has recent pro-Trump posts. An Oct. 12 post grouped CNN, one of the targets that received envelopes containing explosives, among “BS con job fraud puppets. ... You will just vanish.”

Sayoc is the manager of a catering company in Hallandale Beach, Fla., the Herald reported, citing business records, and has a history of financial troubles. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom home he owned in Fort Lauderdale was foreclosed in 2009, the Herald reported, and Sayoc filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender