(KMSP) - Minnesota Senate candidate Jim Newberger accused then-Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar of letting go the suspect who allegedly sent bombs to prominent Trump critics this week, although county records show an assistant attorney dismissed the charges, not his opponent.
Rep. Newberger accused Klobuchar of having “a connection to this individual” in an interview with Fox 9 Saturday morning from when Klobuchar was the Hennepin County Attorney in 2005.
The so-called “MAGA Bomber” was arrested in Florida Friday and identified as Cesar Sayoc. Sayoc has a criminal history in Minnesota, including an arrest in 1995.
In 1995, he was charged in Minnesota with theft by swindle and drug possession.
According to the Hennepin County criminal complaint, in January of 1995 Sayoc went to multiple nutrition stores in the Twin Cities area, including the Southdale Center in Edina and the Mall of America in Bloomington. He would buy liquid and pill products from a nutrition store, but then later return the items. After checking the items, store workers found he replaced the pills with beans and the liquid with water. Sayoc returned $568.30 of altered merchandise.
A worker at Natures Food Center in Bloomington called police when Sayoc returned to the store. Officers arrested him and during the drive to the jail, Sayoc "continuously thrashed" in the back seat and kicked the passenger seat. Officers also found him in possession of .5 grams of crack cocaine.
It was 10 years later, in 2005, when Sayoc was booked on a warrant. At the time he was living in Plymouth, Minn. According to court records, the case was dismissed by an assistant county attorney in Klobuchar’s office because the drugs were destroyed in 1997 and hadn't been tested by the city chemist.
“She let him go,” Newberger said in the interview Saturday morning. “We are still digging into this, but she does have a connection to this individual.”
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's office released the following statement:
The arrest and charging of Cesar Sayoc in connection with mailing bombs to prominent people has brought attention, and some misunderstanding, about his crimes in Hennepin County decades ago.
To set the record straight, Mr. Sayoc was charged by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in 1995 with theft by swindle over $500 and fifth-degree possession of .5 grams of crack cocaine, the lowest level felony drug crime at the time. A complaint warrant was issued and bail of $5,000 was requested.
Mr. Sayoc was not apprehended on those charges for 10 years, in late August of 2005. He posted the $5,000 bail. The charges were dismissed by an assistant Hennepin County Attorney on Sept. 8, 2005, not then-county attorney Amy Klobuchar. The court records indicate the drug charge was dismissed because the drugs had been destroyed in 1997. While there no longer are any records on why the theft by swindle charge was dropped, standard practice would be to determine if there was still sufficient evidence and witness availability 10 years later. If not, the case would have to be dismissed.
Finally, even if the county attorney’s office had been able to take the case forward and get a guilty plea or a jury verdict of guilty, Mr. Sayoc would have received no prison time and a probation period of up to three years for these offenses. In short, he would have been free to leave Minnesota more than 10 years ago.
In addition to talking about Klobuchar’s past as the Hennepin County Attorney, Newberger spoke with Fox 9 about healthcare in Minnesota. He called it the “biggest statewide issue.”
“We had a system before where we had some choice,” he said. He went on to say that those choices were lost with MNsure that can be unaffordable for some Minnesotans.
“I offer a free market solution,” he said. “I wholeheartedly support more choices, better quality and low costs, but I won’t do that unless we cover preexisting conditions and we bring back MNCare as a safety net for the most vulnerable.”
Newberger also spoke about his support of President Donald Trump, saying, “I stand with our President and his plan to make America great. We are on such a good path to prosperity right now. If you look at where we are now versus where we were 5 years ago under President Obama, we are light years ahead.”