Maryland man pleads guilty to trying to sell nuclear secrets to foreign government

Prosecutors set out the facts supporting the guilty plea on Monday, starting with Jonathan Toebbe’s employment with the Navy Department. Toebbe, a Navy veteran who later became a civilian employee at the Washington Navy Yard, worked at Naval Reactors, which oversees the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program. Toebbe had active special security clearance with the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

The government then broke down Toebbe’s actions from April 2020 to October 2021, repeatedly noting that there was “a reflection of who acted as a lookout for him” in several dead spots.

The Toebbes have been held in custody since the fall because the Justice Department said they were at risk of fleeing. From details released at a hearing in October, it appears the Toebbes were prepared to leave the country if their activities were discovered, armed with cash, rubber gloves, a cryptocurrency wallet and their children’s passports.

Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to challenge his detention in the fall, while lawyers for Diana Toebbe sought his release, resulting in a three-hour hearing. New details then emerged about the extensive work of law enforcement to find the couple and the Toebbes’ efforts to keep their activities hidden.

The unidentified foreign country contacted the United States in early December 2020 to share the letter national officials received in April from someone using a common cryptography pseudonym who offered to sell details of the submarines. American nuclear weapons. The letter was accompanied by authentic and classified documents.

“Please have your experts review the documents,” the letter reads, according to the FBI. “I think they would agree that your country’s attempt to develop a [redacted] would be greatly helped.

In October, defense attorneys for Diana Toebbe argued there was no evidence to suggest she had access to her husband’s nuclear information, cryptocurrency, or her discussions with the agent of the FBI, which he apparently thought was a foreign government. But the FBI and prosecutors maintained there was enough evidence to suggest she was involved in his plan to sell the classified information for a total of $5 million.

Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.


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