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July 2016
Tim Bilecki

Bilecki Negotiates Reducing Confinement for E-6 Caught in Teen Sex Sting by Half

Attempted Sexual Assault of a Child, Attempted Sexual Abuse of a Child
Marine Corps Base Kaneohe, Hawaii
Marine Corps Staff Sergeant – E-6
Negotiated pre-trial agreement, limiting client to 14 months confinement.

The NCIS and the OSI ran a sting operation in Hawaii, similar to the “Catch a Predator” campaign that has been running rampant in Okinawa. In the operation in Hawaii, law enforcement agents posted an ad on Craigslist in the strictly platonic section for a woman seeking a military guy for a relationship.  The agents used a picture of an individual who was over the age of 18 and listed their persona’s age as over 18 years old.  After the service member answered the Craigslist ad, the law enforcement agent would then move the conversation over to Kik or some other text messaging app and start chatting with the service member.  During the chats, the law enforcement agent would state that she was 14 years old to see if the service member continued chatting.  However, the law enforcement agent would also send pictures of “herself” to the service member she was chatting with. These pictures were of an adult woman over the age of consent.  If the chats continued, the agent would then steer the conversations to a sexual topic and attempt to get the service member to meet up at a pre-determined location to make the arrest.  

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In this case, Staff Sergeant chatted with the undercover agent, discussed sexual topics with the undercover agent, and drove to the house to meet up with an individual whom he believed to be a minor for sex.  After the arrest was made, the Marine SSgt was taken into custody and provided a full confession to law enforcement.  Law enforcement also seized and searched his phone, finding other contraband items.

This case was unique in that the Bilecki Law Group was retained by the client with the intent that our office would obtain a pre-trial agreement to mitigate his prison exposure.  When Bilecki’s team was brought on to the case, the best pre-trial agreement that the government would offer was 30 months in prison in exchange for a guilty plea.  Tim Bilecki, an Article 120 UCMJ sexual defense lawyer in Hawaii who led the defense team, quickly investigated the case and began digging into how the sting operation was conducted.  

Bilecki learned that law enforcement was using techniques that could certainly be considered entrapment.  In particular, the law enforcement agent was sending pictures of “herself” as an adult to the Sergeant. This contradicted the undercover agent’s persona that she was 14 years old and could easily mislead a service member to believe that the person they were chatting with was of legal age.  In addition, it was often the law enforcement agent that would turn the conversations sexual and attempt to get the service member to meet up for sex, not the other way around.

Bilecki’s team used this information as leverage in the pre-trail negotiations and was ultimately able to secure a pre-trial agreement with a cap on confinement of 14 months with deferral of forfeitures for 6 months. This agreement allowed our client’s family to continue receiving pay for six months while he was in confinement.

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