Former Navy Sailor Charged in Virginia with Attempted Espionage (Updated)

Robert Patrick Hoffman

  • Robert Patrtick Hoffman, II
  • 39 years old, born 1973
  • US Citizen, born in Buffalo, NY
  • US Navy, 1991-2011
  • Petty Officer First Class, E6
  • Cryptologic Technician
  • Held TS/SCI clearance with access to SAPs
  • Resident of Virginia Beach, VA
  • Attempted to spy for Russia, revealing to them methods to track US submarines
  • Caught in an FBI sting operation

Former Navy Sailor Charged in Virginia with Attempted Espionage (December 2012)

(FBI/NORFOLK) — Robert Patrick Hoffman, II, 39, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to provide classified information to individuals who he believed to be representatives of the Russian Federation.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Juan C. Molina, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Charles T. May, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed.

Hoffman was charged in an indictment returned yesterday with attempted espionage, which carries the penalty of imprisonment for any term up to life, if convicted.

Hoffman was arrested this morning without incident and is scheduled to make his initial appearance at 2:30 p.m. in federal court in Norfolk before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller.

According to the indictment, Hoffman is a U.S. citizen born in Buffalo, New York, who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy until his retirement on November 1, 2011.

While serving in the navy, Hoffman held security clearances that granted him access to classified and national defense information relating to programs and operations in which he participated, and he repeatedly signed agreements to not disclose that sensitive information.

The indictment alleges that on October 21, 2012, Hoffman attempted to deliver to the Russian Federation classified documents that revealed national security information.

He 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.

In fact, Hoffman delivered the information to the FBI, which was conducting an undercover operation, according to the indictment.

The indictment does not allege that the Russian Federation committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case.

This case was investigated by the FBI and NCIS. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Krask and Alan M. Salsbury and Trial Attorney Heather M. Schmidt of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

INDICTMENT (.pdf)

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Robert Patrick Hoffman II

Navy vet accused of being Russian spy (WAVY-TV)

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. . .

. . .  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.” . . .

FBI: Retired sailor faces spy charges (Navy Times)

A retired cryptologic technician allegedly attempted to deliver sub-tracking secrets to the Russians, but ended up caught in an FBI sting instead.

A federal grand jury charged retired Cryptologic Technician 1st Class (SS) Robert Patrick Hoffman II on Wednesday with attempted espionage, according to an FBI release. The former sailor earned a top secret security clearance while in the Navy, according to the release, and allegedly offered secret information to the Russians in October.

The “Russians” were actually part of an undercover FBI operation, according to the release. Hoffman, 39, was arrested Thursday morning “without incident” and is scheduled to be in federal court in Norfolk, Va., on Thursday afternoon. . . .

Prosecutors: Retired Navy sailor tried to spy for Russians because he was ‘bored’ (News Channel 3)

Federal prosecutors say in his attempt to spy for the Russians, Robert Hoffman III was willing to take a life as long as he was properly compensated.

It was just a part of the new information released in court Tuesday, detailing how FBI agents came to charge Hoffman, a retired Navy cryptologist, with attempted espionage.

According to prosecutors, Hoffman’s 2011 trip to Belarus is what piqued the interest of investigators; they made contact with him on September 21st of this year, posing as members of the Russian intelligence service.

Just nine days later, prosecutors say Hoffman dove right in, making his first of three ‘dead drops’ around Virginia Beach.

The packages, they say, contained documents he created from memory from his time in the Navy that defense officials have confirmed included classified information.

Before the FBI moved in, though, it seems that Hoffman had a change of heart.

According to prosecutors, he showed up at the FBI offices in Norfolk on October 31st, alerting them to his contact with the Russians–the FBI never told him that he was really talking to their undercover agents.

They say he admitted to passing along information that would help the Russian military,  saying he did it because he was bored. . . . .

Case against former sailor accused of attempted espionage draws comparisons to previous local spy drama (News Channel 3)

Yesterday, federal agents marched a handcuffed Robert Patrick Hoffman II into the Norfolk Federal Courthouse. Prosecutors say the FBI nabbed him trying to pass secrets about submarines to Russian handlers.

It was the same courthouse, and almost the same circumstance, that played out nearly 30 years ago.

John Walker, members of his family, and a friend were caught by FBI agents selling military secrets to the Soviets. The 18-year espionage was so damaging that according to military experts, had the Cold War turned into a real war, the Soviets with our secrets would have won.

No one will say if Hoffman actually passed secret information to the Russians. His charge is attempted espionage. But like Walker’s case, federal authorities say it is likely prosecutors will add charges against Hoffman.

Hoffman’s 2009 divorce saddled him with debts.

Court records show he agreed to $1,234 monthly in child support for three sons, including twins.

He also accepted responsibility for the mortgage on the Virginia Beach house after his ex-wife left the state.

And, he agreed to keep up payments on three credit cards, and two loans.

On Tuesday, Hoffman returns to Norfolk Federal Court for his arraignment. The same building where investigators once revealed it cost the country more than a billion dollars to undo the damage from the Walker family. . . .

 

Prosecutors: Ex-sailor tried to pass “top secret” info (Virginian-Pilot/May 2013)

. . .  In the original indictment, Hoffman was charged with trying to give the Russians information classified as secret regarding how to track U.S. submarines. In the new indictment, prosecutors claim he also tried to give the agents top-secret information relating to the United States’ ability to track foreign warships.

According to court papers, the government classifies information as “secret” if its unauthorized disclosure could result in “serious” damage to national security. Information is deemed “top secret” if its release could result in “exceptionally grave” damage.

During a hearing in December, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Krask said the FBI sent Hoffman a letter in September after learning he had traveled to Eastern Europe. The letter purported to be from Moscow and asked Hoffman whether he wished to provide “technical assistance.” . . . (more)

Accused Russian spy indicted on new charges (Fox 43/May 2013)

Document: Hoffman indictment

Navy veteran accused of trying to spy for Russia has been indicted on new charges.

In an indictment filed May 8, U.S. officials say Robert Hoffman, II, 38, of Virginia Beach attempted to provide Russia with top secret information. Hoffman was already accused of trying to give the Russian Federation secret information.

The indictment explained the difference in the two charges, stating the disclosure of top secret information could result in “exceptionally grave” damage to the United States while the disclosure of secret information could result in ‘serious’ damage.

Hoffman is accused of trying to give the Russian Officials classified documents less than one year after his retirement from the Navy. The “officials” Hoffman met with were actually agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducting an undercover operation.

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.

Hoffman is scheduled for an arraignment on the new charges Wednesday.

Former sailor pleads not guilty to espionage (WAVY/May 2103)

A former sailor has pleaded not guilty to additional charges that he passed top secret documents to individuals he believed represented the Russian government.

Robert Patrick Hoffman of Virginia Beach entered his plea Wednesday in federal court in Norfolk. . . .

Ex-sailor pleads innocent trying to pass top secret information (UPI)

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