Former sailor arrested after allegedly attempting to pass secrets to Russia

If convicted, Robert Patrick Hoffman II, who retired from the US Navy last year, faces up to life in prison. According to the indictment, the FBI was conducting an undercover operation.

A former cryptologic technician in the US Navy was arrested Thursday on attempted espionage charges after he allegedly tried to provide individuals he believed to be Russian intelligence officers with secret information about how to track US submarines.

Robert Patrick Hoffman II was taken into custody by federal agents in Norfolk, Va., on charges that he tried to pass a secret document to a foreign government not authorized to receive it.

According to the federal indictment, the secret document revealed “methods to track US submarines, including the technology and procedures required [to do so].”

Mr. Hoffman had served 20 years in the Navy and retired in November 2011 as a petty officer, first class. He had access to the highest levels of classified military secrets.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Norfolk on Wednesday, says that Hoffman delivered the secret document on Oct. 21, 2012. He acted “with intent and reason to believe that such information was to be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation, namely, the Russian Federation,” the indictment says.

It continues: “In fact, the defendant delivered the classified information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was conducting an undercover operation.”

There is no allegation in the indictment that Russia or a Russian official committed any offense in the case.

If convicted, Hoffman faces up to life in prison. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of undisclosed assets.

Court records do not indicate how much undercover agents paid or offered to pay Hoffman in exchange for the secret information.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

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