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June 2016
Tim Bilecki

Bilecki Exposes Flaws in NCIS Sex Teen Sting, Proves No Criminal Intent for W-2

Attempted Sexual Assault, Attempted Lewd Act on a Child, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer
Camp Foster, Okinawa
Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 – W-2
Not guilty of all charges except Conduct Unbecoming an Officer, time served plus approximately one month in confinement and no punitive discharge.

A Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 was one of nearly three dozen service members stationed in Okinawa, Japan, who were caught in an NCIS “To Catch a Predator” type sting operation.  In this operation, NCIS agents placed ads on Craigslist, social media and online dating sites (all of which require the poster to be 18+) posing to be a female looking to meet guys on the island.  These ads will typically feature language such as “New to the island and looking for someone fun to meet, Soooo bored here” or words to that effect. These ads will also feature a picture of a female who is of legal age and will list an age which is over 18 years old.

Once service members respond to the ad, the NCIS undercover “chatter” will request that the chats be moved over to Kik messenger and the service member and the chatter will start texting.  In this particular case, the chatter stated that she was 15 years old but was sending actual photographs of herself (she was over 21 years old), after which the Chief Warrant Officer quickly questioned how old she really was. The chatter continued by providing a backstory to the Chief Warrant Officer, which was incredibly unrealistic, and the CWO simply did not believe she was a minor. The texts between the CWO and the chatter ranged from mundane topics but did not involve conversations about CWO having sex with the chatter, despite attempts to turn the conversation sexual by the NCIS. In fact, the Chief Warrant Officer broke off all communications with the chatter and stopped communicating with her.

Months later, the Chief Warrant Officer was using Kik and sent a group message out to many of his contacts, and NCIS responded to the message.  However, the Kik username was different and the CWO did not realize he was chatting with the individual whom he earlier broke contact with. On this second chat, that NCIS chatter was different, her persona was different, the pictures she sent were of a different person (though still of a female in her 20s), and, importantly, she did not explicitly state her age.  During this conversation, NCIS tried repeatedly to turn the conversation sexual and lure the Chief Warrant Officer to meet the chatter at her home.  The CWO did not, however, chat with her about having sex but did agree to meet her at her “home.”   Again, in this chat, the chatter never explicitly stated her age and was sending the Chief Warrant Officer actual photos of herself – a female in her 20s.  Once the CWO arrived at the purported home, which was a house staged by the NCIS, he was immediately apprehended and taken into custody.

After being arrested, the Chief Warrant Officer provided a statement to NCIS that he did not believe the person he was chatting with was a minor and that, regardless of her age, he did not intend to have sex with the person he believed to be chatting with. NCIS did not believe his story, and he was placed in pre-trial confinement to await trial.

Court martial lawyer Timothy Bilecki, investigated in detail the NCIS sting operation, which was ongoing in Okinawa.  We learned, among other things, that the NCIS:

  • had no written SOP for their operations,
  • was not following all ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) protocol,
  • was not properly cataloging and retaining all of the chat logs,
  • was utilizing inexperienced female Sailors (MA1 and MA2) as their chatters,
  • involved chatters had little to no prior experience or formal training in these types of operations,
  • had a prior chatter who was reprimanded for misconduct when conducting a prior TCAP operation (for having a sexual relationship with the person she was chatting with after he was arrested – and lying about it later),
  • was utilizing techniques that could lead to entrapment,
  • was lying to the suspects after they were arrested,
  • had many other serious issues with the operation in general.  

Mr. Bilecki utilized these failures on the part of NCIS to expose their sting operation and put on a defense of entrapment, mistake of fact as to age and lack of specific criminal intent.  After a hard-fought jury trial, our client was the first in Okinawa to be acquitted by a jury of the charges against him relating to the NCIS sting operation.  He was, however, found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer – likely for leaving work and showing up to the house (on Kadena, AFB) during duty hours in uniform.

This case gained notoriety when, after the trial, Mr. Bilecki utilized Facebook Live to make comments about the verdict. This post was viewed by over 125,000 individuals in less than a week, many of whom were displeased with the manner in which NCIS was running their sting operation and entrapping service members stationed in Okinawa.

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