The wife of a US Navy engineer pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring with her husband in a conspiracy to sell secret information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country, authorities said.
Diana Toebbe, 46, admitted to acting as a lookout while her husband Jonathan Toebbe left memory cards hidden in items such as a peanut butter sandwich and a packet of chewing gum in three “dead” places. “for several months in 2021, the Department of Justice said. .
Jonathan Toebbe, also 46, pleaded guilty on Monday. The couple were arrested in October by FBI agents following a year-long undercover operation.
According to court documents, Jonathan – a nuclear engineer with a top-secret security clearance – sent a package of restricted Navy documents and other documents to an unnamed foreign country in April 2020, along with instructions on how to get additional information.
Over the course of several months, Toebbe, with the help of his teacher wife, allegedly peddled additional military secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign official in exchange for $100,000 in cryptocurrency.
Toebbe worked in the naval nuclear propulsion program with a high-level security clearance, giving him access to sensitive military designs for nuclear-powered warship reactors.
In June 2021, Toebbe left an SD card containing sensitive information inside half a peanut butter sandwich in exchange for $20,000 in cryptocurrency. In return, he emailed the undercover FBI agent a decryption key for the SD card.
He dropped another SD card, hidden inside a packet of chewing gum, in exchange for $70,000 in August, authorities said. The couple broke up after the third fall in October. Both initially pleaded not guilty.
As part of a settlement with prosecutors, Diana Toebbe today pleaded guilty to conspiracy to release restricted data. She had been sentenced to life in prison, a fine of up to $100,000 and supervised release for up to five years. According to her plea agreement, she will serve no more than 36 months in federal prison.
Jonathan Toebbe, who pleaded guilty to the same offence, will serve at least 12 and a half years in federal prison as part of his plea deal, prosecutors said.
“Among the secrets the U.S. government guards most zealously are those related to the design of its nuclear-powered warships,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the National Security Division. from the Department of Justice in a statement. “[Jonathan Toebbe] was entrusted with some of these secrets and instead of keeping them, he betrayed the trust placed in him and conspired to sell them to another country for his personal gain.
New York Post