VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A former Navy sailor charged with espionage is due back in court Tuesday and has acquired a well-known local criminal lawyer to represent him.
Robert Hoffman was a Petty Officer Cryptologic Technician in charge of tracking U.S. submarines and retired from the Navy last year.
He is now accused of handing over top-secret information to FBI officials posing as Russians.
Hoffman is due back in court next week and is required to have two lawyers because he could face the death penalty. WAVY.com uncovered Hoffman has hired noted criminal defense attorney James Broccoletti.
Neighbor Jessica Holland was at home during Hoffman's arrest Thursday.
"It was crazy," neighbor Jessica Holland said. "My two youngest got off to go to school. As soon as they hit the corner for the bus about 10 cars piled in here. All unmarked cars except for one police officer and then you see them all come out with vest and guns and then five minutes later Hoffman comes out in cuffs. They left, then five SUVs with FBI and NCIS agents show up and they were out there until 1:30 p.m."
Hoffman was then brought to Norfolk Federal Court.
"I was shocked... that was the last thing I would have thought. He just got back from deployment, just retired, you wouldn't think a guy would turn his back on his country after 20 years," Holland said.
When asked about Hoffman, one of his friends said, "You can't fix stupid."
"He was very stupid," Holland said. "He lives right there and I would never have guessed that's something he would have gotten in trouble for."
Hoffman was recently divorced - his former wife and their three children now live in Buffalo, NY. WAVY-TV affiliates in New York have attempted to contact her family no no avail.
"He was very strange," neighbor Lynn Williams said. "He took some kind of shoe polish and wrote all over his truck, 'Just Divorced' and his license plate said kind of an obscene thing on it."
In recent months, Hoffman killed all the grass in his backyard and took down five trees.
"[I didn't see anything] other than him keeping to himself," Holland said. "There weren't many visitors. I have only seen two normal girls come over here and one of them lived with him."
Hoffman remained in jail without bond and will be represented in court by Broccoletti and a federal public defender.
Charges have been made in a domestic abuse investigation involving a 74-year-old woman in Elizabeth City.
Witnesses tell WAVY.com the attack of a shopper was the cause of a heavy police presence at the Ross department store at Military Circle in Norfolk Wednesday night.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.