A Navy nuclear engineer’s plan to sell submarine secrets to foreign agents turned disastrous as he pleaded guilty in court Monday.
Basically, it turns out FBI agents intercepted his top-secret work. Whew. Fox News reported on the case.
Jonathan Toebbe had a top-secret security clearance and pleaded guilty in a Martinsburg (WV) federal court. He copped to a single count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data.
Additionally, the 43-year-old man’s sentencing calls for a prison term of between 12 to 17 years. Lawyers must agree to the punishment.
Nuclear Engineer, Wife Stole Sub Secrets
Authorities arrested Toebbe and his wife, Diana, on Oct. 9. The FBI said the couple worked together to sell submarine secrets to someone they thought was a foreign government representative. The person turned out to be an FBI agent.
Subsequently, Toebbe said he conspired to pass classified information to another government, causing “injury to the United States.”
The man must also help federal officials get back all the classified information he didn’t sell. He will have to surrender $100,000 in cryptocurrency he got from selling the secrets.
According to Politico, the Navy veteran became a civilian employee at Washington Navy Yard. He worked at Naval Reactors, which conducts the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program. Reportedly, Toebbe had an active special security clearance to the Departments of Defense and Energy.
Foreign Country Buying Secrets Not Revealed
The letter contained Toebbe’s authentic, classified documents. Toebbe’s suspected country of selling secrets did not appear in the court documents. The country contacted American authorities in early December 2020 about the man’s attempt to share sub secrets.
Politico reported that on the government letter.
“Please have your experts examine the documents,” the letter said, according to the FBI. “I think they would agree that your country’s attempt to develop a [redacted] would be greatly aided.”
However, prosecutors said Jonathan Toebbe told his contact person he would have to leave the United States on short notice.
Authorities said Diana Toebbe, a teacher, served as a lookout for several “dead-drop” locations. They traveled to West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to make drops.
She took her husband’s deposited memory cards with government secrets and hid them in things like chewing gum wrappers, Band-Aid wrappers, and a peanut butter sandwich.
Diana Toebbe pled not guilty to the charges against her, and her case is pending. At one point, the woman’s attorneys suggested she did not know her husband’s classified secrets, but government officials linked her to the plan. The couple schemed to get $5 million from the information.
When the FBI searched the couple’s home, they found a trash bag full of shredded documents with thousands of dollars in cash. They also turned up valid children’s passports and a “go-bag” with a USB flash drive and latex gloves.