Former Navy Sailor Charged with Attempted Espionage

A former Navy sailor has been arrested and charged with attempting to pass classified information about U.S. submarines to Russian spies.

Robert Patrick Hoffman II was arrested by agents from the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) this morning at his home in Virginia Beach.

According to the indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Norfolk, Va., Hoffman served in the Navy for 22 years and achieved the rank of petty officer first class. Hoffman worked as a cryptological technician where he had access to classified information about codes and signals intelligence. Hoffman, who served as a submarine warfare specialist, retired from active duty on Nov. 1, 2011.

The indictment alleges that on Oct. 21, 2012 Hoffman attempted to pass information "relating to the national defense of the United States, including information classified as SECRET that revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines, including the technology and procedures required."

Hoffman believed he was meeting with representatives from the Russian government but in actuality they were undercover FBI agents.

"The indictment does not allege that the Russian Federation committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case," the Justice Department noted in the press release announcing the case.

Justice Department and FBI officials declined to elaborate how Hoffman was first identified as wanting to allegedly pass on national defense secrets.

According to the indictment Hoffman had a top secret/ sensitive compartmented information security clearance. Along with this high level of security clearance Hoffman also had authorization to "Special Access Programs," a higher level of security clearance to limit the number of people authorized to review highly sensitive materials.

No attorney could be identified for Hoffman at this time based on a review of the court docket.