MANHATTAN - Cesar Altieri Sayoc, aka “Cesar Randazzo,” “Cesar Altieri,” and “Cesar Altieri Randazzo,” pled guilty on March 21 to a 65-count Superseding Information in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff. In connection with the guilty plea, Sayoc admitted to mailing 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to 13 victims throughout the country, including 11 current or former U.S. government officials, and that he intended to use the IEDs as weapons and to cause injuries.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.
“For five days in November 2018, Cesar Sayoc reigned terror across the country, sending high-ranking officials and former elected leaders explosive packages through the mail,” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake. Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint, Superseding Information, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings: In October 2018, Sayoc mailed from Florida 16 padded envelopes, each containing an IED, to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Atlanta, and California. Sayoc packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded. Sayoc also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red “X.” As Sayoc admitted during his plea, he designed the IEDs for use as weapons and mailed them understanding that they were capable of exploding and causing injuries and property damage.
In alphabetical order, Sayoc’s intended victims were former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Cory Booker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Representative Maxine Walters. Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2, 2018, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered all of the 16 IEDs mailed by Sayoc.
The FBI arrested Sayoc in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 26, 2018 - less than five days after the October 22 recovery of the first IED, which Sayoc mailed to Soros in New York. The FBI seized a laptop from Sayoc’s van, which contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that Sayoc mailed. The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of Sayoc’s first name: “Users/Ceasar/Documents.”
A document from that path, titled “Debbie W.docx” and bearing a creation date of July 26, 2018, contained repeated copies of an address for “Debbie W. Schultz” in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that Sayoc used on the packages. Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name “Debbie,” and creation dates of Sept. 22, 2018, contain exact matches of the return address used by Sayoc on the 16 envelopes.
Sayoc’s laptop also revealed extensive Internet search history related to his investigation of the intended victims and his desire to injure or kill them. For example, Sayoc conducted the following Internet searches, among others, on the dates indicated in 2018:
· July 15: “hilary Clinton hime address”
· July 26: “address Debbie wauserman Shultz”
· Sept. 19: “address kamila harrias”
· Sept. 26: “address for barack Obama”
· Sept. 26: “michelle obama mailing address”
· Sept. 26: “joseph biden jr”
· Oct. 1: “address cory booker new jersey”
· Oct. 20: “tom steyers mailing address”
· Oct. 23: “address kamala harris”
Sayoc, 57, of Southern Florida, pled guilty to four sets of charges related to each of the 16 IEDs: (1) sixteen counts of using a weapon of mass destruction; (2) sixteen counts of interstate transportation of an explosive device; (3) sixteen counts of conveying a threat in interstate commerce; and (4) sixteen counts of the illegal mailing of explosives with the intent to kill or injure another. Sayoc also pled guilty to using an explosive to commit a felony, which relates to felonies committed in connection with the use and mailing of all 16 IEDs.
The maximum and minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Rakoff on Sept. 12, 2019.
Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Mr. Demers and Mr. Berman also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the District of Columbia, the District of Delaware, the District of New Jersey, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California and the Northern District of Georgia for their assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Emil J. Bove III, Jane Kim, and Jason A. Richman are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Cora of the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
Contact A Health Care Provider If You Suspect Exposure
On March 4, 2019, a traveler who has been confirmed to have measles - a highly contagious disease - arrived in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport from Aruba.
The individual was infectious on that day and may have traveled to other areas of the airport. If you were in the airport between March 4 at 9 p.m. and March 5 at 9:30 a.m., you may have been exposed to measles and, if infected, could develop symptoms as late as March 26. The individual departed for California from Terminal C.
New Jersey residents identified as potentially exposed on the ill individual’s flights will be notified by their local health department.
Anyone who suspects an exposure is urged to call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department. Special arrangements can be made for evaluation while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection.
Measles symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. It can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Measles infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby. Measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.
“Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles, so I urge all residents across the state to get vaccinated to protect their health. Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has not had measles is at risk if they are exposed,” said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist. “We urge everyone to check to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations.
“Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or can’t receive it for medical reasons. If you’re planning an international trip, the World Health Organization recommends that adults or adolescents unsure of their immune status get a dose of measles vaccine before traveling,” Dr. Tan added.
Days after the heinous terror attack in New Zealand, another crime took place in the Netherlands.
On the morning of March 18, three people were shot dead and five others injured after a suspect opened fire on a tram in the city of Utrecht, roughly 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. After a manhunt, authorities caught their suspect, 37-year-old Gokman Tanis, for the shooting near the 24 Oktoberplein station.
Officials in the city are treating the incident as an act of terrorism, and that the nation’s threat level was raised to maximum.
Meanwhile, mosques all over the world are still on high alert after the attack on a mosque in New Zealand.
On March 15, 50 people were shot by a gunman at two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Fifty others were injured, as the shooter brazenly live-streamed the assault on Facebook. The 28-year-old shooter was captured by authorities, and two others were taken into custody. Mosques in the New Jersey and New York area as well as beyond that saw heightened security.
“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. (50) innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!” President Trump posted on Twitter.
“Violence on the basis of religion is evil. Today's attack in New Zealand is a sobering reminder that the threat of political and religious violence is real and that we must remain vigilant against it. The Justice Department joins in mourning with the people of New Zealand,” U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.
WWE NXT performer and New Zealand native Dakota Kai also expressed her sorrow over the attack, posting, “My heart is breaking. Absolutely horrified at the Christchurch NZ mosque shootings. Stop the hate.”
On March 18, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country would take steps to ban the possession of semi-automatic weapons within 10 days of the shooting, as well as a program for the government to buyback such weapons.
Photo Courtesy: Department of Homeland Security
NEWARK - On March 11, it was announced that approximately 3,200 lbs. of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $77,000,000, was seized at the Port of New York/Newark in a joint operation on Feb. 28, involving U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York Police Department (NYPD), and the New York State Police (NYSP).
An examination of a shipping container entering the United States revealed sixty packages containing a white powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. This apprehension is the second largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark, and the largest in nearly 25 years.
“This is a significant seizure, in fact it is the largest cocaine seizure at the Port of New York/Newark since May 1994” said Troy Miller, Director, New York Field Operations. “The ongoing partnership between CBP, USCG, HSI, DEA, NYPD, and NYSP continues to produce results that protect the American public. This interception prevents a massive quantity of drugs from getting to the streets and in the hands of our children.”
“Transnational Criminal Organizations rely upon illicit networks throughout the world to supply, transport, and distribute cocaine and other dangerous drugs,” said Brian Michael, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark. “HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force in Newark, comprised of CBP, Waterfront Commission of NY Harbor Police, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Port Authority Police Department, and Dover Police Department working together, strengthened by HSI’s international partnerships and DHS’s combined assets, play a critical role in disrupting the worldwide cocaine chain.”
“Cocaine, New York’s nemesis of the 90’s, is back-indicating traffickers push to build an emerging customer base of users mixing cocaine with fentanyl,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “This record breaking seizure draws attention to this new threat and shows law enforcement’s collaborative efforts in seizing illicit drugs before it gets to the streets and into users’ hands.”
“Successes such as this seizure are a testament to the importance of our partnerships and our ability to work together to keep our ports and our communities safe,” said Capt. Jason Tama, Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and commander Sector New York.
NYSP Acting Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, "The dedication of law enforcement has once again resulted in a massive seizure of deadly drugs. I applaud our partners for the hard work that kept this dangerous substance from our streets. Not only did this interception save lives, but it also put an end to the violence often associated with drugs and drug trafficking. This is a crime we will not tolerate, and one we will continue to fight with our partners in law enforcement."
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said, “The proliferation of illegal drugs in New York City will never be tolerated, neither by law enforcement nor by the people we serve. The NYPD and its law enforcement partners remain committed to identifying and stopping all illegal narcotics by attacking their distribution networks on every level. Through significant seizures such as this, we will continue to make every neighborhood in our nation’s safest large city even safer.”
CBP officers seized the illicit drugs and turned them over to agents from Homeland Security Investigations for further investigations.
CBP also wishes to acknowledge the U. S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York for their cooperation and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency for their assistance.
CBP routinely works with its partner federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to intercept dangerous drugs before they can reach our communities. It deploys the government’s largest law enforcement work force, including air and marine assets, to protect our citizens at and between ports of entry.
WASHINGTON - After months of turmoil, the nation will not face another imminent government shutdown, but rather another imminent issue between Democrats and Republicans.
On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump announced that he was declaring a National Emergency over a “crime epidemic at the border” to access a potential $8 billion for his campaign-promised “border wall.” The declaration comes after a federal budget was agreed upon, allocating about $1.4 billion for the wall, but not the $5.7 billion he requested.
By making the declaration, Trump can use Executive Authority to move around federal monies allocated to other resources, such as Treasury forfeiture funds and the Department of Defense.
While addressing the media in the White House Rose Garden, Trump acknowledged that he will likely face legal action, and that litigation could take years before a resolution is reached. Also, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives could draft its own legislation to nullify Trump's declaration. Even though it would likely fail in the Republican-controlled Senate, it would force GOP leaders to publicly reveal what side of the wall they are on.
"I commend Congressional leadership for protecting federal workers, their families, and the American people from another damaging government shutdown. On the other hand, I am very concerned with President Trump’s decision to declare an emergency to build his ineffective and unnecessary wall. His decision to circumvent Congress is not only fiscally reckless, but constitutionally dubious," New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement.
NEWARK - On Feb. 13, 2019, Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, has disclosed the names of Archdiocesan clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors dating back to 1940. The list of clergy names, a letter and video from Cardinal Tobin, answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and additional information is posted on the archdiocesan website: healing.rcan.org
In a statement, Cardinal Tobin said, “The revelations of clergy sexual abuse of minors throughout this past year have provoked feelings of shock, anger, shame, and deep sorrow throughout our Catholic community. In an effort to do what is right and just, we are publishing the names of diocesan clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in the Archdiocese of Newark. This list of names is the result of an extensive review of Archdiocesan records dating back to 1940. It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated. We also pray that this can serve as an initial step in our efforts to help restore trust in the leadership of the Catholic Church.”
In bolstering his position, Tobin also released a letter on the Archdiocese of Newark’s Web site.
“…The Archdiocese of Newark has a zero-tolerance policy for any type of mistreatment or misconduct involving children and young adults. No member of the clergy with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor remains in ministry.
“It is our sincerest hope that this disclosure will help bring healing to those whose lives have been so deeply violated. We also pray that this can serve as an initial step in our efforts to help restore your trust in the leadership of the Catholic Church.
“I wish to express my genuine sorrow to the victims and their families who were so profoundly betrayed. On behalf of our Church, I beg your forgiveness. You have my solemn promise of prayers and support as you continue on your healing journey.
“As a sign of our commitment and support, a new Independent Victim Compensation Program has been established. This program will allow those sexually abused as minors by clergy to seek compensation in a compassionate, expeditious and transparent manner. While no degree of financial compensation can adequately address the suffering endured, we want this to be a genuine expression of our remorse and our desire to comfort and compensate those victimized by this abuse.
“The disclosure of this list of names is not an endpoint in our process. Rather, it is an expression of our commitment to protecting our children, and a new level of transparency in the way we report and respond to allegations of abuse. We must protect our children, first, foremost, and always.
“Significant progress has been made to ensure that children are safe in today’s Church.
“Since 2002, we have implemented Safe Environment programs and measures that have positively impacted how we create and support safe environments throughout the Archdiocese of Newark.
“Moving forward, vigilance must be maintained. We all must be committed to protecting our children, the most vulnerable members of our community.
‘As such, I urge anyone aware of suspected sexual misconduct by any cleric, employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese to report it immediately to law enforcement and to the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator: 201-407-3256.
“While these are difficult times for all of us, prayer is critical to maintaining our faith. Let us place our anger, shame, sorrow and disappointment at the feet of Our Lord, asking for the healing that only His grace can provide. We pray that we may be a source of strength and compassion for the victims of abuse and their families. We also pray for all members of the Catholic community who suffer from these tragic wounds in the Body of Christ. And we offer encouragement and fraternal support to the many faithful priests who are so deeply hurt by the failings of their brothers.
“I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, but also the Mother of Holy Hope, may heal our hearts and light our way so that we will see the Church rise again renewed. Thank you and may God bless you.”
The names of the credibly accused can be found on the Archdiocese’s Web site here: