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U.S. Navy engineer pleads guilty to attempting to sell nuclear secrets

A nuclear engineer with the US Navy pleaded guilty in federal court this week to one charge of attempting to sell nuclear information to a foreign government, and is facing 12 to 18 years in federal prison.

At a hearing in Martinsburg, West Virginia this week, Jonathan Toebbe entered a plea agreement with the government, decreasing his total charges to one from the original three. His wife, Diana Toebbe, is also in jail on three felony charges related to the conspiracy, and is awaiting her trial.

Diana claims she did not know what her husband was doing when she accompanied him to three “dead drops” where he transferred SD cards concealed inside objects like sandwiches, Band-Aid wrappers, and a pack of gum.

In court on Monday, Jonathan Toebbe admitted he had conspired with his wife “to transfer restricted data to a foreign country” with “the intent to injure the United States.” The plea deal also requires Toebbe’s cooperation with investigators, including giving them full access to his electronic devices, as well as helping to retrieve any data he has lost that belongs to the US Navy.

In October, Toebbe sent a letter to a foreign government offering to sell US Navy nuclear submarine secrets, and the country’s government turned the letter over to the FBI, who later contacted Toebbe undercover and began corresponding with him for weeks, eventually entering into an agreement with Toebbe to exchange nuclear information for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

The Toebbes were apprehended at what was to be their fourth drop-off location. Part of Toebbe’s plea deal also requires him to return the crypto funds.

ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: CBS NEWS

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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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