US District Judge Jed Rakoff sentenced Sayoc after he pleaded guilty to explosives charges for mailing 16 pipe bombs days before the 2018 midterm elections last autumn.
The one-time stripper and pizza delivery man from Aventura, Florida, apologised to his victims, saying he is “so very sorry for what I did.”
Sayoc says he never intended for the explosives to work when he mailed them to Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, philanthropist George Soros, actor Robert De Niro and several members of Congress.
Defence lawyers urged leniency, saying Sayoc, burdened as a child by severe learning disabilities, was living alone in a cramped van and working as a strip club DJ and a pizza delivery man in West Palm Beach when he “found light” in the president and became “increasingly obsessive, paranoid and angry” and believed enemies of Mr Trump were trying to hurt him and other supporters of the president, according to court filings.
Prosecutors said a life sentence is “necessary and appropriate” after Sayoc caused “widespread fear and panic” in the days before the 2018 midterm elections. None of the packages exploded.
Prosecutors said Sayoc’s devices, though not capable of functioning as designed, were still able to explode and were responsible for shutting down parts of several major metropolitan areas, including train stations, schools and postal facilities.
They said he had not fully accepted responsibility and that his claims that his packages were a “hoax” are “simply false.”
“The defendant appears to regret facing potential punishment, but not what he did and the harm that his attack caused,” prosecutors said in court papers. “His large-scale attack triggered massive law enforcement response and crippled parts of several major metropolitan areas. … The defendant terrorized the public and placed thousands of individuals in harm’s way.”
In their pre-sentence arguments for leniency, defence lawyers wrote that Sayoc was suffering from “delusional beliefs” fuelled by large doses of steroids when he decided “to try to intimidate and scare Trump’s perceived enemies.”
They urged the judge to sentence Sayoc to the mandatory 10 years in prison and one additional month.
Sayoc has been housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan since he was brought to New York after his 26 October arrest. He had been living in a van plastered with Trump stickers and images of Trump opponents with crosshairs over their faces.
Additional reporting by AP