By Mary McGuire

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A string of pipe bomb scares came to an end on Friday as authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc in south Florida.

He’s accused of orchestrating a spree of package bombs sent to top Democrats, such as former President Barack Obama and critics of the president, like actor Robert De Niro.

Sayoc is now facing close to nearly 50 years in prison, but follow his criminal history and you’ll find a stop in Minnesota.

Hennepin County court documents show Sayoc was charged in 1995 with fifth-degree drug possession and theft by swindle.

According to the criminal complaint, Sayoc was 33 years old when he went to health supplement stores in Edina and Bloomington and purchased large amounts of vitamins and supplements.

He allegedly returned the items, but took the actual product out of the containers and replaced it with water and beans. When he was arrested, officers say he had crack cocaine on him.

A decade later, the charges were dropped.

Local security expert and president of Rozin Security, Michael Rozin, suspected a “lone wolf” actor was behind the scare all along.

“The envelopes are a classic poster sign of what a suspicious package looks like,” Rozin said.

He believes this incident proves mail security upgrades are necessary on both federal and state levels.

“There is room for technology that could be added to the mail screening process as a part of what USPS provides,” Rozin said.

Sayoc is expected to make his first court appearance in Florida on Monday. WCCO-TV checked his voting records and he is a registered Republican in that state.

Mary McGuire