Lawyers for Robert P. Hoffman II, 39, of Virginia Beach, told Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller undercover FBI agents entrapped Hoffman, setting him up despite an attempt to confess what was happening, The Virginian Pilot of Norfolk, Va., said Wednesday.
The FBI says Hoffman traveled to an eastern European country recently, where his behavior raised red flags, though they wouldn't elaborate on what precisely he did there. They subsequently sent a letter purporting to be Russian agents, asking if Hoffman, a Navy cryptologist for 20 years, would provide "technical assistance."
Hoffman allegedly assembled information about Navy submarines from memory and left them in drop locations specified by the undercover agents. It was unclear whether the undercover agents offered or paid Hoffman but prosecutors said at one point Hoffman made oblique references to killing people for money, the newspaper reported.
Hoffman's lawyers said he went to the Norfolk, Va., FBI field office during the time he was being investigated and tried to confess what was happening. He offered to help the FBI track down the Russian agents
"Where's the intent" to commit a crime, Hoffman's attorney Keith Kimball asked. "He's going to the FBI to tell them what's going on."
Hoffman is set to be arraigned Dec. 19.