Couple Get 40 Years for Navy Espionage Plot

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A Maryland couple have been sentenced to a combined 494 months behind bars after attempting to sell designs for the US navy’s nuclear-powered warships to a foreign power.

Jonathan Toebbe, 44, of Annapolis, was sentenced to over 19 years in prison while his wife Diane Toebbe got over 21 years after pleading guilty to the conspiracy in February.

Jonathan Toebbe was a nuclear engineer for the Department of the Navy at the time of his arrest, working on nuclear propulsion systems.

His “restricted data” security clearance gave him access to sensitive information related to military design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear-powered warships, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

After sending a “package” to an unnamed foreign government containing a sample of this information and instructions on how to purchase additional intelligence, Toebbe is said to have used encrypted email to correspond with an individual he believed was a representative of this government.

In fact, it was an undercover FBI agent, according to the DoJ.

After receiving $10,000 in cryptocurrency as a “good faith” payment from the agent, Toebbe delivered an SD card containing sensitive information, bizarrely hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich.

The card apparently containied classified info on submarine nuclear reactors.

After doing the same thing two more times, Toebbe and his wife were finally arrested in October 2021.

“If not for the remarkable efforts of FBI agents, the sensitive data stolen by Mr Toebbe could have ended up in the hands of an adversary of the United States and put the safety of our military and our nation at risk,” said US attorney William Ihlenfeld II. “The FBI keeps American citizens safe from enemies both foreign and domestic and this case is an excellent reminder of their important work.”

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