U.S. mail bomb suspect pleads not guilty to all charges

FILE PHOTO: Cesar Altieri Sayoc is pictured in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. in this November 28, 2013 handout booking photo obtained by Reuters Oct. 26, 2018. Broward County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

(Reuters) – The man charged with mailing bombs to prominent Democrats and other critics of U.S. President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty on Thursday to all 30 charges against him in a federal court in New York.

If convicted, Cesar Sayoc faces a sentence of life in prison. He had previously faced five counts carrying a maximum prison sentence of 48 years.

Judge Jed Rakoff set Sayoc’s trial date for July 15, 2019.

Prosecutors said they expected the government’s case would take three weeks and would include experts in forensics, explosive devices and the chemistry of the explosives in those devices.

Sayoc, a 56-year-old former stripper and pizza delivery driver who lived in a white van festooned with right-wing political images supporting Trump and attacking his critics, was arrested in Florida on Oct. 26 following an intense manhunt. He is being held without bail.

A federal indictment filed earlier this month accused Sayoc of sending improvised explosive devices to five people in New York: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 presidential election; billionaire investor and Democratic donor George Soros; former Central Intelligence Agency directors John Brennan and James Clapper; and actor Robert De Niro.

Authorities had previously linked Sayoc to more than a dozen mail bombs around the country. Other targets included former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Democratic U.S. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

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