Home Crime Wife of naval engineer charged in spy case pleads guilty to helping trade submarine secrets – The Independent

Wife of naval engineer charged in spy case pleads guilty to helping trade submarine secrets – The Independent

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Wife of naval engineer charged in spy case pleads guilty to helping trade submarine secrets – The Independent

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FBI sting operation involved ‘dead drops’ of classified material hidden in sandwiches and gum wrappers
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The wife of a former Navy engineer has pleaded guilty to helping him sell nuclear submarine secrets to what he believed was a foreign government.
Diana Toebbe and Jonathan Toebbe initially pleaded not guilty following their arrest last year, the culmination of an alleged scheme in which he traded Virginia-class nuclear submarine secrets – hidden in memory cards tucked into a sandwich, a Band-Aid and a gum wrapper – for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
Diana and Jonathan Toebbe
On Monday, Mr Toebbe pleaded guilty to conspiring to communicate restricted data.
As part of her plea deal in US District Court on Friday, which could come with a prison sentence of up to three years, Ms Toebbe admitted that she “knowingly and voluntarily joined a conspiracy” with her husband, including acting as a “lookout” while he performed “drops” of restricted information.
She said she first learned of her husband’s alleged plan last summer.
The Maryland couple has remained in federal custody since their arrest.
Ms Toebbe, a teacher, repeatedly sought her release on bond, arguing that she did not know about her husband’s alleged plans. She also has argued for her release to care for the couple’s two school-aged children.
Nearly two years ago, Mr Toebbe – who had top-secret security clearance as part of a Naval submarine programme – allegedly sought contact with a foreign government with an offer to sell secrets about nuclear propulsion systems in US submarines. Federal prosecutors have not disclosed the name of the country.
A package that was postmarked 1 April, 2020 contained a note to contact him by 31 December, 2020, or “I will conclude you are uninterested and will approach other possible buyers.
Weeks before that deadline, the FBI reportedly intercepted the package, which contained operational manuals and other information – all marked “CONFIDENTIAL” – as well as instructions to communicate with the sender, in what appeared to be an attempt to establish a covert relationship, according to an affidavit.
The FBI then posed as foreign officials to trade encrypted messages with the sender using code names.
Over the course of several months, they negotiated “dead drop” locations to hand over memory cards with reams of data in exchange for $100,000 in US dollars in the Monero cryptocurrency, according to federal prosecutors. Top-secret plans were reportedly stuffed inside a peanut butter sandwich, a Band-Aid and a chewing gum package.
The couple was arrested after a final drop on 9 October, 2021 near a hiking trail in West Virginia.
As part of their pleas, the Toebbes have agreed to help investigators find any restricted and classified data in their possession and retrieve the $100,000 in Monero they were sent as part of the arrangement.
A sentencing date has not been set.
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AP
Diana and Jonathan Toebbe
AP
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