Nuclear Engineer, Wife, Jailed For Selling Military Secrets

A nuclear engineer from Maryland and his wife have been sentenced for espionage-related offenses.

Jonathan Toebbe, 44, of Annapolis, was sentenced today to 19 years in prison and a $45,700 fine.

Diana Toebbe, his wife, was sentenced to 21 years and ten months in prison and fined $50,000. In August 2022, the Toebbes pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

According to the US Department of Justice, the Toebbes were willing to jeopardize the nation’s security by selling information about naval nuclear propulsion systems. They are now held responsible for their actions.

According to court documents, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government with a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, containing a sample of Restricted Data and instructions for establishing a covert relationship in order to purchase more Restricted Data.

He began communicating with an individual he believed to be a representative of a foreign government via encrypted email. The person was actually an undercover FBI agent. Jonathan kept this correspondence going for several months, which resulted in an agreement to sell Restricted Data for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

Jonathan received $10,000 in cryptocurrency as “good faith” payment from the undercover agent on June 8, 2021. Shortly after, on June 26, Jonathan performed a dead drop by concealing an SD card within half a peanut butter sandwich and containing military sensitive design elements relating to submarine nuclear reactors.

After retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent transferred $20,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan. In exchange, Jonathan Toebbe emailed the undercover agent the SD Card decryption key. A search of the SD card revealed Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors.

Jonathan performed another “dead drop” of an SD card in eastern Virginia on August 28, this time concealing the card in a chewing gum package. The FBI received a decryption key for the card after paying Jonathan $70,000 in cryptocurrency.

It, too, had Restricted Data about submarine nuclear reactors. On October 9, the FBI arrested Jonathan Toebbe and his wife after he dropped another SD card at a pre-arranged “dead drop” at a second location in West Virginia.

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