NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A 20-year Navy veteran is accused of trying to provide classified information to Russian officials during an undercover operation.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, 39-year-old Robert Patrick Hoffman, II, 39, of Virginia Beach, was indicted Wednesday on a charge of attempted espionage. He was arrested without incident at his home Thursday morning. A neighbor told WAVY.com she saw Hoffman placed into custody and that he usually kept to himself.
"He took some kind of shoe polish and wrote all over his truck, 'Just Divorced.' His license plate said kind of an obscene thing on it," the neighbor told WAVY.com.
Hoffman appeared in Norfolk Federal Court on the charge Thursday afternoon and will be back in court on Dec. 11 to have his council appointed. The judge told Hoffman he is eligible for the death penalty on the espionage charge and will reportedly receive two court-appointed attorneys.
WAVY News 10's Andy Fox was in court and reports Hoffman appeared wearing a green t-shirt with the image of a rooster and the words "bred to fight".
The indictment alleges Hoffman tried to give the Russian Federation classified documents revealing information on national security on Oct. 21, 2012, less than one year after his retirement. The U.S. Attorney's Office says the "officials" Hoffman met with were actually agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducting an undercover operation.
According to the indictment, the information Hoffman tried to give the Russian Federation included information that "revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines."
"[Hoffman] is alleged to have carried out this activity with the intent to cause injury to the United States and to give an advantage to the Russian Federation," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a release.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Hoffman served in the Navy for 20 years and reached the rank of Petty Officer First Class. He was trained as a Cryptologic Technician before retiring on Nov. 1, 2011 with a rank of E6.
He held security clearances that gave him access to classified information in his assignments and programs. The U.S. Attorney's Office says he repeatedly signed agreements not to disclose that information.
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.
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