Manhattan Federal Court Judge Jed Rakoff ruled on Monday afternoon that Sayoc, 57, would spend two decades in prison, saying he concluded that the bombs purposely were not designed to explode. Sayoc wept and crossed himself when Rakoff announced the sentence.
The amateur body builder from Aventura apologized to his victims shortly before he was sentenced, telling Judge Rakoff he was “so very sorry for what I did.”
Prosecutors had called for a life prison sentence for Sayoc, saying the sentence is “necessary and appropriate.” Sayoc’s lawyers had argued that a decade in prison was enough.
The onetime pizza delivery man faced a mandatory decade in prison after pleading guilty to explosives charges on March 22 for mailing 16 inoperative pipe bombs days before the midterm elections last fall.
Sayoc admitted the devices he sent were capable of exploding and causing injury.
However, in two letters sent to Judge Rakoff in March after the plea hearing, he maintained that the devices were never meant to explode and he didn't intend to inflict harm.
Sayoc pleaded guilty to sending 16 rudimentary bombs to targets including Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, several Democratic members of Congress, former President Barack Obama, actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. Devices were also mailed to CNN offices in New York and Atlanta, with former Obama administration intelligence bosses as the intended recipients.
Assistant Federal Defender Marcus Amelkin said his client was driven in part by his obsession with President Trump and his feeling that Democrats were to blame for damage to his van.
At the time of his arrest, Sayoc had been living in a van plastered with stickers of President Trump and images of Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim said Sayoc “set out to terrorize people” and did not sufficiently show he was sorry for his actions.
“Politics cannot justify a terrorist attack,” she said.
Sayoc blamed a life of mental illness, a childhood sexual assault he suffered at a boarding school, excessive use of steroids and his failure to listen to his mother.
“I understand now that I have committed a very serious crime,” Sayoc said.
He added, “I wish more than anything I could turn back time and take back what I did.”
Fox News’ Robert Gearty, Tamara Gitt, Bryan Llenas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.