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Camp Foster, Okinawa

Charges: Attempted Sexual Assault, Attempted Lewd Act on a Child, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer

Result: NOT GUILTY off all charges except Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer, time served plus approximately one month in confinement and no punitive discharge

Our client 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 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 age and will list an age which is over 18 years old.

Once service members would 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) and our client quickly questioned how old she really was. The chatter continued by providing a backstory to our client which was incredibly unrealistic and our client simply did not believe she was a minor. The texts between our client and the chatter ranged from mundane topics but did not involve conversations about our client having sex with the chatter, despite attempts to turn the conversation sexual by NCIS. In fact, our client broke off all communications with the chatter and stopped communicating with her.

Months later, our client was using Kik and sent a group messages out to many of his contacts and NCIS responded to the message. However, the Kik username was different and our client 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 female in her 20’s) and importantly, she did not explicitly state her age. During this conversation, NCIS tried repeatedly to turn the conversation sexual and lure our client to meet the chatter at her home. Our client 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 our client actual photos of herself – a female in her 20’s. Once our client arrived at the purported home, which was a house staged by NCIS, he was immediately apprehended and taken into custody.

After being arrested, our client provided a statement to NCIS that he did not believe the person he was chatting with was as 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, along with UCSM attorney Capt Zach Phelps investigated in detail the NCIS sting operation which was ongoing in Okinawa. We learned, among other things, that NCIS had no written SOP for their operations, that NCIS was not following all ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) protocol, that NCIS was not properly cataloging and retaining all of the chat logs, that NCIS was utilizing inexperience female Sailors (MA1 and MA2) as their chatters, that the NCIS chatters had little to no prior experience or formal training in these types of operations, that NCIS 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), that NCIS was utilizing techniques which could lead to entrapment, that NCIS was lying to the suspects after they were arrested, and 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 which were displeased with the manner in which NCIS was running their sting operation and entrapping service members stationed in Okinawa.

NOT GUILTY of all charges except conduct unbecoming and officer.

Read our client's testimonial

Air Force E-7

Yokota, AFB, Japan

Charges: Criminal bullying and hazing

Result: FULL ACQUITTAL – Not Guilty of all charges and specifications

Our client was a old school C-130 maintainer who had spent much of his career in the AFSOC community and was regarded as one of the best C-130 maintainers in the Air Force. After assignments with AFSOC he was PCS’d to Yokota, AFB and worked as a DOC chief in the ISODOC where he was responsible for the routine and scheduled maintenance of C-130s. He was a tough but fair leader who was mission first and demanded the best from his Airmen – many of whom were fresh out to Tech school with no real world experience and who can best be described as… soft.

An Airman in the unit had committed suicide which brought about an investigation. During the investigation, a small group of Airmen – most right out of Tech School – complained about how they were treated by our client and made allegations that the Airman who committed suicide did so because our client was too tough on him (though the suicide investigation showed that the suicide was wholly unrelated to our client or his actions). During the investigation, these Airman made complaints against our client, ranging from getting yelled at for poor performance, being told not to play fantasy football in the break room while on duty, having to mop the hangar floor, being given nicknames and being corrected for in front of other Airman for generally lacking basic discipline and customs and courtesies. There was essentially a mutiny among the junior Airmen to take out their NCO because they were undisciplined and our client held them accountable.

Instead of handling this matter with a counseling or an Article 15, the command sought to cover itself because there was a suicide and charged our client at a court-martial. Our client was being scapegoated.

Court martial lawyers Tim Bilecki and Noel Tipon were retained to fight back, clear our client’s name and allow him to retire. After being retained, Mr. Bilecki and Mr. Tipon quickly flew to Japan to work with Air Force ADC, Capt Veronica Bath, and conduct its own investigation.. During this investigation, we interviewed dozens of witnesses, put together our theory of defense and prepared to win at trial. The prosecution came to us and offered to drop the charged if our client would accept a Chapter 4 and essentially forfeit his retirement. We said no. After conducting our own investigation, we knew our client was being scapegoated by his command for the suicide because he was a tough leader who didn’t tolerate incompetence from his junior Airmen.

Prior to trial, Mr. Bilecki and Capt Bath litigated numerous motions and were able to keep all mention of the suicide out of trial as there was absolutely no showing that it was connected to our client. After that victory, Mr. Bilecki skillfully cross-examined each of the witnesses against our client, exposing them as weak Airmen who lacked integrity and simply could not handle a touch but fair NCO. In addition, Mr. Bilecki called numerous senior NCO’s to testify regarding our client’s outstanding duty performance, his leadership style and evidence showing that many of the allegations made against our client by the junior Airmen did not occur.

In the end, the jury saw through the nonsense and fully acquitted our client.

NOT GUILTY of All Charges and Specification.

March 2016

Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan

Marine E-6

Charges: Sexual Assault of a Child, Sexual Abuse of Child, Lewd Act on a Child, Indecent Exposure, and Adultery

NCIS in Okinawa set up a large scale “To Catch a Predator” sting operation in which law enforcement placed a “F4M” ad on Craigslist. Once a military service member would respond to the ad and start chatting with the female (who was actually an undercover NCIS agent), the agent would tell the service member that she was only 14 years old and then have sexual text conversations with the service member – who did not know it was an undercover agent.

After these text conversations, some of which went on for months, the agent would invite the unsuspecting service member to come over to “her house” for sex. When the service member arrived at the house and went inside, the NCIS agents would arrest the service member. This sting operation netted over two-dozen service members across all branches of service in Okinawa, Japan who were criminally charged. The ranks ranged from E-2 through O-5.

Our client was one of the many Marines caught in this sting operation.

After being caught and arrested, our Marine provided a full confession to the alleged crime and gave NCIS authorization to search his cellular phone in order to obtain the text message conversations between him and the undercover. NCIS already had the text messages that were saved from their end of the conversation but essentially informed our client that they needed to search his phone to corroborate them. Our client provided the consent to search his phone for those messages.

NCIS then took our client’s phone and searched the entire phone, not just the messages associated with the sting operation. By searching the phone, NCIS learned that our client was also in a sexual relationship with an underage high school girl at Kadena High on Okinawa, Japan. That girl was later interviewed and she admitted that she was in a long-term sexual relationship with our client. NCIS obtained hundreds of pages of sexual text messages between the two of them.

Prior to being charged, an unbelievable twist to the case occurred. The undercover NCIS agent who was posing as a the minor during the sting operation with our client, actually contacted our client on social media, met up with him then the undercover NCIS agent actually had a sexual relationship with our client. This was discovered, she was investigated and she deleted the relevant text messages from her phone. She was later removed from her position.

The government charged our client with over ten pages of charges relating to the sting operation and to the actual sexual relationship with the high school girl. He was facing a mountain of evidence and a maximum sentence of over 100 years in prison.

Bilecki & Tipon was retained and we aggressively investigated the case, the nature of the sting operation and the nature of the relationship with the high school girl. We went after NCIS and filed numerous motions, including a motion to suppress the cell phone search, a motion to dismiss due to the agent deleting evidence from her phone and a motion to merge the charges.

Throughout this time period, Mr. Bilecki entered into tough negotiations with the government and was able to secure a pre-trial agreement with a limitation on confinement of only two years.

At the sentencing hearing, the military judge sentenced our client to fifteen (15) years and six (6) months. Because of the outstanding pre-trial agreement, thirteen (13) years and six (6) months of that sentence was reduced and the approved sentence was only two years.

We did not stop there; Bilecki & Tipon filed an additional motion for Article 13 credit based on our client’s year on class Charlie liberty restriction up on Camp Schwab, Okinawa. We won this motion and were awarded an additional 321 days of confinement credit.

Result: Sentenced to 15 years and 6 months. Client will serve less than one year.

December 2015

Camp Zama, Japan

Army O-5

Charges: BAH Fraud

Detailed facts of case withheld due to ongoing litigation with ABCMR over GOMOR removal.

Lieutenant Colonel promotable was given a GOMOR for alleged BAH fraud and the GOMOR the permanently filed in officer’s OMPF. This resulted in being taken off the O-6 promotion list and an HRC Board of Inquiry (BOI) followed.

Mr. Bilecki was retained to represent this officer at the BOI at Camp Zama, Japan. At the BOI, Mr. Bilecki devastated the government’s case and exposed that not only was a certain member of the Camp Zama, Japan finance office incompetent, he proved that our client had absolutely no wrongdoing in the matter and was actually underpaid – not overpaid.

After deliberations of less than one hour, the BOI members unanimously found that our client committed no misconduct. The GOMOR should not have been placed in her file to begin with. She was subsequently retained in the Army.

We are currently seeking to remove this GOMOR via the DASEB and restore our client’s promotion to COL with appropriate back pay.

Update to follow.