Former Beach sailor sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempted espionage

Posted at 10:41 PM, Feb 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-10 23:41:36-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - Thirty years in prison- that's the sentence for a retired Navy cryptologist who gave top secret information to who he thought were Russian spies.

Robert Hoffman, a former petty officer first class, admitted to delivering classified information to drop sites in Virginia Beach three different times.

He left encrypted flash drives in hollowed out tree stumps at First Landing State Park. The information outlined details on how the US tracks foreign warships.

Eventually, Hoffman went to the FBI to tell them about the drops, not knowing he had been set up by federal agents.

Hoffman asked for a 15-year sentence; his attorneys argued that since his attempts were unsuccessful, he should get less time.

During the hour and a half hearing, a visibly thinner Hoffman told the judge he would not apologize for the crimes and wanted a re-trial. He also talked about his time so far in Norfolk jail, where he says at one point he went on a hunger strike just to speak with his defense council. Hoffman said he's written children's books in jail based on his own childhood experiences.

In the end, the judge sided prosecutors, recommending Hoffman receive mental counseling during his time in prison.