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Ex-sailor pleads not guilty to espionage charge

Dec. 19, 2012 - 11:46AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 19, 2012 - 11:46AM  |  
Robert Patrick Hoffman, a 20-year Navy veteran who retired last year as a petty officer first class, leaves U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va. on Dec. 6. Hoffman has been charged with attempted espionage, accused of passing classified documents to individuals he believed represented the Russian government.
Robert Patrick Hoffman, a 20-year Navy veteran who retired last year as a petty officer first class, leaves U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va. on Dec. 6. Hoffman has been charged with attempted espionage, accused of passing classified documents to individuals he believed represented the Russian government. (Steve Earley / The Virginian-Pilot via AP)
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A former sailor has pleaded not guilty to charges that he passed classified documents to individuals he believed represented the Russian government.

Robert Patrick Hoffman of Virginia Beach entered his plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

Hoffman's attorney, James Broccoletti, told WAVY-TV that his client looks forward to his day in court.

Hoffman is charged with attempted espionage.

According to the indictment, he attempted to hand over secret documents on Oct. 21 that detailed how to track U.S. submarines. The indictment says Hoffman actually delivered the information to the FBI, which was conducting an undercover operation.

Hoffman was a cryptologic technician in the Navy who held top secret clearance. He retired in November 2011.

A trial date has been tentatively set for June 17.

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