A sailor assigned to the destroyer USS Higgins has been charged with espionage and related offenses for allegedly providing classified information to an unnamed foreign government, according to charging documents.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Bryce Steven Pedicini has been held in pretrial confinement since May 19, 2023, according to Pedicini’s charge sheet, which was provided to Task & Purpose.

Prosecutors accuse Pedicini of giving an employee of the  foreign government “information relating to the national defense” on seven separate occasions between November 2022 and February 2023 in or around Hampton Roads, Virginia, the charge sheet says.

The charge sheet does not specify what type of classified information that Pedicini is accused of providing other than he allegedly knew “it would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation.”

The foreign government to which Pedicini allegedly supplied the information is also not named in the charge sheet.

In addition to allegedly providing the information, prosecutors also accuse Pedicini of trying to pass along “photographs including images of a SIPR [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] computer screen” in May 2023 while he was in Yokosuka, Japan, according to the charge sheet.

SIPR is a communications network used widely across the military to send and receive classified information. Computers that physically connect to the SIPR network are treated as classified equipment, usually kept under lock and key and segregated from other computers used in military office settings.

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All told, Pedicini is accused of espionage; attempted espionage; wrongfully transporting information that he believed to be classified; wrongfully processing material he believed to be classified on a system that was not approved for classified material; wrongfully failing to report a foreign contact; wrongfully failing to report solicitation of classified information by an authorized person; wrongfully taking a personally owned electronic device into an open storage room (secure room); and communicating defense information, his charge sheet says.

Pedicini’s defense attorneys are not currently talking to the media, according to Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“The incident remains under investigation and legal proceedings continue,” said Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson, a spokesman for Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Originally from Tennessee, Pedicini enlisted in the Navy in January 2008 and was promoted to chief petty officer in August 2022, according to his service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose.

He previously served on the destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur and USS McFaul, and his military awards and ratings include Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Navy “E” Ribbons, three Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

This is the latest in a string of espionage cases involving the Navy. Two sailors were arrested in 2023 for allegedly sending pictures, videos, and technical manuals to China’s intelligence agency. One of the sailors, Navy Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, aka Thomas Zhao, was sentenced in January to just over 2 years in prison.

Prosecutors claimed that the other sailor – Jichao Wei, aka Patrick Wei –had been encouraged by his mother to spy for China.

In 2021,  an FBI agent posing as a foreign intelligence officer arranged a series of “dead drops” at which Navy veteran Jonathan Smay Toebbe was observed leaving SanDisks hidden in a Band-Aid wrapper, a chewing gum package, and a peanut butter sandwich. One of the disks contained information on Virginia class submarines.

Investigators zeroed in on Toebbe, a nuclear engineer who was working as a civilian employee at the time, after an unnamed foreign government gave the U.S. government a package it had received from an anonymous source that contained a SanDisk with restricted data.

Toebbe was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison in November 2022. His wife Diana received a prison sentence of nearly 22 years.

CORRECTION: 04/20/2024; this story has been corrected to make clear the sailor’s full name is Bryce Steven Pedicini.

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