U.S. Navy sub war specialist allegedly involved in Espionage

Suspect Hoffman attempted to provide the Russian government with U.S. classified information.
Credits: DOJ/FBI


A former U.S. Navy submarine warfare specialist living in Virginia Beach, Va., was indicted on Friday by a federal grand jury for attempting to harm the United States by giving classified information to spies he believed represented the Russian Federation.

Robert Patrick Hoffman was charged with attempted espionage, which carries, if he’s found guilty, penalties up to and including life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, according to the prosecution.

Ironically, Hoffman was indicted on the same day the nation remembers the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7. 1941, in which thousands of sailors died or were severely wounded.

According to the indictment, the 39-year-old Hoffman is a U.S. citizen born in Buffalo, N.Y., who served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy until his retirement on Nov. 1, 2011. When he retired he held the rank of petty officer first class. The veteran’s speciality was submarine warfare.

While serving in the Navy, Hoffman held a security clearance that provided him with access to classified and national defense information regarding defense programs and operations in which he participated, and he repeatedly signed non-disclosure agreements that were legally binding.

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

He is allegedly carried out this activity with the intent to cause injury to the United States and to give an advantage to the Russian Federation.

However, unbeknownst to Hoffman, he delivered the classified information to FBI undercover agents, who were conducting a covert operation, according to the federal indictment.

While the indictment does not allege that the Russian Federation committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case, the FBI counterespionage unit is expected to follow-up on the case.

The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, Jim Kouri, CPP, is the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Contact Jim.