A Maryland man charged with attempting to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign government pleaded guilty to espionage on Monday.
Jonathan Toebbe, a nuclear engineer, pleaded not guilty in October and was detained pending trial. In Monday’s binding plea deal, Toebbe will be sentenced to between about 12 and a half and 17 and a half years in prison, and is required to turn over and provide access to all electronic devices, accounts and any other files he might have. He also consented to assisting federal officials with locating all classified information he possesses, as well as the money the undercover FBI agent gave him while the government gathered evidence.
“There’s a message here for anyone who would sell out America’s secrets,” Alan Kohler, assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, said in a statement. “The FBI and its partners will use all our investigative techniques to bring you to justice.”
Toebbe and his wife, Diana, a teacher, of Annapolis, were arrested on Oct. 9 after undercover FBI agents exchanged $100,000 in cryptocurrency for highly sensitive nuclear submarine secrets that were stored on memory cards hidden in gum wrappers, peanut butter sandwiches and Band-Aid wrappers, stashed at drop sites in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Though Diana Toebbe also faces charges, there were no updates on her next court appearance on Monday, and her husband’s deal does not resolve her case.
. . .
The Toebbes have been kept in detention since the fall, as the Justice Department said they were flight risks. From details unveiled during a hearing this October, it appeared the Toebbes were prepared to leave the country if their activities were discovered, armed with cash, rubber gloves, a cryptocurrency wallet and their childrens’ passports.
Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to challenge his detention in the fall, whereas lawyers for Diana Toebbe asked for her release, which prompted a three-hour-long court session. New details were then unveiled about law enforcement’s extensive work to track down the couple and the Toebbes’ efforts to keep their activities concealed.
Interestingly, they seem to have tried to sell the information to a friendly country:
The unidentified foreign country contacted the U.S. in early December 2020 to share the letter the nation’s officials had received that April from someone using a common cryptography pseudonym who offered to sell details about U.S. nuclear subs. The letter came packaged with authentic and classified documents.
“Please have your experts examine the documents,” the letter said, according to the FBI. “I think they would agree that your country’s attempt to develop a [redacted] would be greatly aided.”
Just who could that have been? This Ain't Hell has an idea:
The interesting twist is the country contacted in purchasing the data. China? Guess again. Russia- nope. Hint- Joe’s Handlers soured a submarine deal the country had with Australia.
Pre-update from CBS, Wife of Navy nuclear engineer in spy case pleads guilty
The plea deal recommends Diana Toebbe be sentenced to no more than three years in prison, although the charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. She has also agreed to cooperate in finding and retrieving the $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency that was paid to her husband for the dead drops and to help the government locate classified information.