NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A former Navy sailor was found guilty of attempted espionage by a federal jury Wednesday.
In an indictment filed May 8 , U.S. officials say 40-year-old Robert Patrick Hoffman, II of Virginia Beach attempted to provide Russia with top secret information. At the time, Hoffman was already accused of trying to give the Russian Federation secret information.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations started looking into Hoffman last year after he spent three weeks in Eastern Europe. The FBI initiated a 'false flag operation' to see if Hoffman would give classified information to an undercover agent posing as a Russian operative.
After the undercover FBI agent made contact with Hoffman, prosecutors say he made three drops of information at First Landing State Park to FBI agents he thought were Russian spies. During one of the drops, Hoffman gave information on how to track U.S. Naval submarines and how the Navy tracks foreign warships.
In court, Hoffman's defense argued the whole time he was trying to collect information to help the FBI catch the Russian operatives.
"I thought the fact that he went to the FBI on his own on October 31 and turned over everything was extremely significant and indicative of what his motives were," said James Broccoletti, Hoffman's attorney. "Obviously the jury disagreed."
Hoffman faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to Neil MacBride, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Virginia Beach. Hoffman will be sentenced December 2, at 2 p.m. Broccoletti plans to appeal the verdict.
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.
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