Husband And Wife Plead Guilty For Second Time To Attempting To Sell US Nuclear Submarine Secrets

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe pleaded guilty for a second time on Tuesday to conspiring to sell US nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign country. A judge threw out their previous plea agreement with prosecutors, describing them as too lenient. The couple now face even longer jail sentences.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe are now looking at longer sentences
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe are now looking at longer sentences

The couple from Maryland accused of attempting to sell US military secrets to a foreign country pleaded guilty for the second time today after a federal judge threw out their previous agreements with prosecutors just weeks ago, claiming the deals were too lenient.

43-year-old Jonathan Toebbe, a civilian engineer for the Navy with a top-secret security clearance, and Diana Toebbe, 46, a private-school teacher in their hometown of Annapolis, are now looking at longer prison sentences under the revised plea agreements set out by federal prosecutors. Their sentencing dates have not yet been confirmed.

They both first pleaded guilty earlier this year, but in August, District Judge Gina M Groh, In Martinsburg, West Virginia, threw out the agreements with prosecutors, deeming them too lenient.

The initial plea agreements would have required Jonathan Toebbe to be sentenced to 12½ to 17½ behind bars and Diana Toebbe to three years.

However, with the new plea bargains, Diana Toebbe now faces a minimum sentence of 12½ years, and Jonathan Toebbe more than 21 years in prison.

In a court hearing on Tuesday, the couple admitted they conspired to sell restricted data about nuclear propulsion systems on submarines to a foreign country, a violation of the Atomic Energy Act that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The country who were offered the intelligence has not been named by the FBI, however, they reportedly sat on the offer for several months before forwarding it to US counterintelligence officials.

The FBI conducted a sting operation, posing as agents of the foreign country, and at one point arranged for the country's embassy to display a signal at an agreed time, to build trust with the Toebbes.

FBI agents working on the case told the court how they recorded Jonathan Toebbe over a period spanning several months in 2021 leaving data cards at prearranged "dead drop" sites - concealing them in an adhesive-bandage wrapper, a packet of gum, and a peanut butter sandwich.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Jonathan Toebbe said: "I conspired with Diana Toebbe to communicate restricted data to another person with the intent to secure an advantage to a foreign nation."

Diana Toebbe admitted to "acting as a lookout" during three dead drops.

Authorities claimed that Jonathan Toebbe provided thousands of pages of secret documents that he had accumulated over the years.

The commander of US Submarine Forces, Vice Admiral William J Houston, told the court that the restricted data Toebbe had given to the FBI agents included "some of the most secure and sensitive information about our nuclear-powered fleet."

Included in the documents were performance characteristics and schematics for a state-of-the-art attack submarine that costs around $3 billion to produce. According to court documents, Jonathan Toebbe had worked for the Navy on nuclear-propulsion technology for almost a decade.

In one communication, Jonathan Toebbe wrote: "The information was slowly and carefully collected over several years in the normal course of my job to avoid attracting attention and smuggled past security checkpoints a few pages at a time."

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