A former Navy chief convicted of attempted espionage in April after sharing classified information with a foreign agent had a “financial need for the money” the agent paid him, prosecutors argued in trial records obtained by Navy Times.

Those records also show how Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents botched a recording of their interview with former Chief Fire Controlman (Aegis) Bryce Steven Pedicini by failing to ensure their video camera had enough batteries.

In addition to attempted espionage, Pedicini was convicted on failure to obey a lawful order and attempted violation of a lawful general order charge specifications, following a weeklong, judge-only general court-martial.

Formerly assigned to the Japan-based destroyer Higgins, Pedicini was sentenced to 18 years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge and reduction in rank to E-1 late last month.

Pedicini initially faced multiple espionage charges, instead of the attempted espionage charge specifications for which he was convicted, but the trial judge opted to convict him of that lesser-included offense.

The Navy has declined to fully explain the case or Pedicini’s trial, citing the classified nature of the situation, but motion filings from earlier this year provide a deeper —albeit incomplete — glimpse into events that led a former chief to offer state secrets in return for a payday.

The filings do not include the military judge’s rulings on the motions by the prosecution and defense, which Navy Times has requested.

Still, the records offer more information about what went down in what was the Navy’s first espionage case in at least the past five years.

Pedicini could not be reached for comment.

An unidentified foreign agent first contacted Pedicini on Facebook in October 2022, and claimed they were a “defense researcher” from Japan, filings show.

The foreign agent offered Pedicini “money in exchange for information about the United States military capabilities and strategies.”

The agent told Pedicini he could receive “more money based on the value and sensitivity of the information [Pedicini] could provide and specifically asked for classified information,” the court filings state.

Pedicini went on to send multiple documents to the agent from November 2022 to May 2023, according to court records, and he sent the agent photographs of material accessed on the military’s secure internet protocol router, or SIPR, on May 8, 2023.

Court filings also suggest that nobody involved in the trial knew the identity of the foreign agent who contacted Pedicini, including prosecutors.

One filing notes how the prosecution tried to get the agent’s contact information from “intelligence community agencies” at the request of the defense, but that those agencies did not provide that contact information.

At one point, while communicating via the Telegram messaging app, the foreign agent noted that Pedicini was only providing “information that is available to the public,” and that the agent then asked for documents “bearing classification markings.”

How the sea service caught wind of Pedicini’s actions remains unclear, but filings show Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents interrogated Pedicini on May 19, 2023, and he was detained from that point on.

Pedicini “stated he never met this individual in person and made assumptions about who this person was,” court filings state.

“He also told investigators that after he provided opinion articles to the individual, the individual was asking him to provide more detailed information, including non-publicly available information and classified information,” the filings state.

The filings also reveal that, during the NCIS interview, the agent’s recorder “failed,” and a significant chunk of the interview was not recorded.

At one point before the recorder failed, Pedicini told NCIS that “he had been creating research papers for someone who claimed to be from a Japanese research company,” and that he used Wikipedia and Google to write those papers.

He also told agents that he had pictures “of the front page of two classified documents on his phone,” according to the court filings.

Roughly 80 minutes into the interrogation, the video recording ended, and the NCIS agent in charge later recalled that “they learned the batteries had failed but did not notice until reviewing the recording after the interrogation had ended,” according to court filings.

According to an agent’s summary of the remaining portion of the interview that was not captured on video, “Pedicini agreed the information contained in the manuals and possibly the information he provided could be used to harm the United States government.”

Pedicini added that the agent “gave him instructions not to use the base Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi in the area of the base to send documents or photographs,” court filings state.

“Pedicini stated he was unsure of the nationality or affiliation of the individual/group who he was communicating with, but he was sure they were not who they said they were and surmised they could be Japanese working for the Chinese,” a court filing recounting the NCIS interview report states. “When asked if he felt the information he provided could be used to the detriment of the U.S. government [Pedicini] replied ‘absolutely.’”

Pedicini’s defense team argued that he was not properly given his Article 31b rights against self-incrimination on the espionage accusations.

Instead, Pedicini was only initially advised that he was suspected of the removal and retention of classified material, “a distinct act from espionage,” the filings argue.

The defense also took issue with NCIS failing to ensure their video camera had enough battery for the entire interview.

“The Government has a duty to preserve and produce evidence for the Defense, however, in this case NCIS failed to properly check and maintain their recording equipment to ensure an interrogation was properly captured,” defense attorneys argued in one filing.

Prosecutors also provided copies of Pedicini’s banking records to show he “had a financial need for the money” the foreign agent provided him via PayPal after he sent certain documents, according to one court filing.

Those banking records show that Pedicini’s need was evident in the months leading up to his first interactions with the foreign agent, and that the former chief had taken out several loans in the months leading up to their first messages, prosecutors argued.

The military has regularly warned that troops facing financial difficulties are more susceptible to foreign agents.

“When targeting people, adversaries employ a wide range of methods and may even look for exploitable weaknesses — such as financial problems, drug and alcohol issues, adultery, and gambling problems,” the Pentagon’s Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency warns.

“The loan documents and images of the checks provide context for the large sums of money that is sporadically deposited into the accused’s account,” the filing states. “The loan documents further establish the accused’s financial need for the money [the foreign agent] sent because it shows the amount and frequency of the loans the accused received and relied on.”

Like any convicted service member, Pedicini is entitled to a review of his case by a higher court, in this case, the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.

It remains unclear when that appeals court will issue its opinion on Pedicini’s trial.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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