Teacher pleads guilty in plot to sell nuclear submarine secrets
The wife of a former US Navy nuclear engineer has pleaded guilty to conspiring with her husband to pass restricted data to a foreign nation for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
Maryland teacher Diana Toebbe pleaded guilty on Friday to “conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data related to the design of nuclear-powered warships,” just days after her husband, former US Navy engineer Jonathan Toebbe, also pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The two were arrested on October 9, 2021 after they received $100,000 in cryptocurrency from undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of a foreign power. They reportedly stored the sensitive data on memory cards hidden in a packet of gum and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which were then dropped at various locations across the US.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said Diana Toebbe “served as a lookout while her husband serviced three ‘dead-drops.’” Jonathan Toebbe was working on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and held a national security clearance at the time.
Though Diana Toebbe’s charge typically holds a penalty of up to life in prison, her sentence will be no longer than 36 months, according to a plea agreement. She had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge. Her husband faces between 12 and 17 years in prison.
According to the DOJ, Jonathan Toebbe “sent a package to a foreign government” which contained “a sample of Restricted Data and instructions for establishing a covert relationship to purchase additional Restricted Data.”
“Jonathan Toebbe began corresponding via encrypted email with an individual whom he believed to be a representative of the foreign government. The individual was really an undercover FBI agent,” the DOJ continued, claiming that Toebbe eventually agreed to sell the data for “thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.”