A Maryland Navy nuclear engineer and his wife stand accused of trying to sell nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign country. And they allegedly sold out their country for the relatively low price of $30,000.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began investigating Jonathan Toebbe, 42, last December. It all began after an FBI agent obtained a package that had been sent to a foreign country with Navy documents and instructions on how to use encrypted communications so as to begin a “covert relationship.”
“Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax,” the note inside the package read.
Toebbe had worked at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He had received a top-secret security clearance, the New York Post reports. And his wife Diana, 45, allegedly helped him pass secrets to what he believed to be a foreign country.
Navy Engineer Allegedly Passed Nuclear Submarine Secrets to FBI Agents
FBI agents first confirmed the veracity of the nuclear submarine secrets Toebbe was trying to pass to a foreign military intelligence agency. Then they began corresponding with him, posing as foreign spies.
In March of this year, Toebbe told them that he would send the documents they were interested in if they paid him in cryptocurrency. The agents offered to pay him $10,000 up front and another $20,000 after they confirmed that what he had sent them was accurate. The two parties then agreed on a “dead drop” in June.
Sure enough, Toebbe and his wife showed up at the “dead drop” location, according to the Justice Department complaint. And the FBI later retrieved a SD card from there. It had been wrapped in plastic and sandwiched between two slices of bread with peanut butter on them. That half-sandwich was then tucked within a plastic bag.
At Fourth Drop, Agents Arrested the Couple
After the “successful” first drop, the Navy engineer set up another “dead drop” for July 31 in Pennsylvania. When he left behind the second SD card, he allegedly hid it in a sealed Band-Aid wrapper with a Band-Aid within a clear Zip-Loc bag.
The third “dead drop” took place in August in Virginia. Toebbe allegedly put the SD card in a pack of chewing gum.
FBI agents say each of the SD cards was loaded with information on the designs of Virginia-class nuclear submarines.
When Toebbe and his wife went to the fourth “dead drop,” in West Virginia, agents arrested them. They are due to appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia this Tuesday.