NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Navy chief charged with espionage used Google as source for ‘white papers,’ defense argues

Government says sailor sold secrets for cash to a stranger on the Internet
Navy Chief Bryce Pedicini
Posted at 5:51 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 20:51:48-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A military judge must decide if a Navy chief was simply writing research papers for money or if he committed espionage and betrayed the United States.

Attorneys for Chief Petty Officer Fire Controlman Bryce Pedicini argued Tuesday the sailor simply copied and pasted information he found on Google.

Pedicini sent a total of eight “white papers” to someone posing a Japanese researcher on Facebook. That person offered to pay Pedicini cash in exchange for military information starting in 2022.

“It was a very stupid thing,” Pedicini told NCIS investigators when he was arrested abroad in Japan.

His attorneys told judge Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart, who is overseeing the espionage trial on Naval Base San Diego, that he fully cooperated with investigators, gave passwords to his devices, and outlined his relationship with the supposed researcher.

National security concerns

The prosecution has said the researcher was an intelligence officer working for a foreign government. The person is only identified as “individual one” in court.

Due to national security concerns, parts of the case, including information about the spy, are being heard in a classified closed session not accessible by the public.

Pedicini’s attorneys argue evidence is missing from the case and said the prosecution hasn’t proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The government fought back Tuesday afternoon and maintains Pedicini was motivated by greed and “cashed out” on his security clearance betraying his fellow sailors.

Navy Chief Bryce Pedicini
Navy Chief Bryce Pedicini leaves a military court on Naval Base San Diego on Tuesday April 16, 2024 at the close of his espionage trial.

Court heard while stationed in Japan, Pedicini took photos inside a secure room of classified computers. He sent those images to the intelligence officer through a website the spy set up.

Classified information on China, Russia

In one instance, the Navy chief said, “an amount closer to $5,000 would be decent,” when negotiating how much he’d get paid for the military information.

Pedicini used a burner phone and the Telegram encrypted messaging app to cover his tracks, prosecutors allege.

He pleaded guilty to a single charge stemming from taking a personal phone into a secure room last week. It’s the more serious espionage and communicating defense information charges he is fighting.

The prosecution has not identified the country the U.S. believes the intelligence officer was working for.

Court previously heard some of the information Pedicini sent included details on Chinese and Russian threats as well as a classified document relating to a ballistic missile’s system.

The judge will begin her deliberations on Wednesday and deliver a verdict at a later time.

"This is a complicated case," Lockhart said Tuesday.