A young Navy enlisted man pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of selling top-secret Pentagon documents to a government informant for $200 in cash.

Lee Eugene Madsen, 24, a Navy yeoman assigned to the Pentagon strategic warning staff, pleaded guilty to a single count of espionage in a brief appearance before U.S. District Court Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. in Alexandria.

Bryan accepted a request from prosecutors and agreed to drop the 10 remaining counts of espionage that the sailor faced.

Madsen, whose indictment was the second alleged breach of U.S. intelligence community security within a year, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 26. He faces a maximum sentence of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"Considering the evidence they had against him, I think we made the best possible deal," said J. Frederick Sinclair, Madsen's court-appointed attorney, after the hearing. "They had a confession he made at his arrest, recorded conversations between Madsen and [government] agent, and the documents themselves, found at his home," the lawyer said.

Sinclair said he believed Justice Department lawyers had agreed to the plea bargain arrangement because "these documents never fell into enemy hands, there was no evidence he had ever done this kind of thing before, and had we gone to trial the secret documents would have been declassified, which could have been embarrassing for the government."