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Maryland couple sentenced to 20 years for spying in Navy nuclear secrets case


A civilian naval engineer and his wife will each spend about 20 years in prison for offering to sell a foreign government information on the design of nuclear-powered warships, the Justice Department said Wednesday after being sentenced in federal court.

Jonathan Toebe, 44, of Annapolis, was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison. His wife, Diana Tobe, 46, was sentenced to more than 21 years. The couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transmit restricted data in August.

Jonathan Toebe was an engineer assigned to the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program. His clearance gave him access to classified information, including performance specifications for nuclear warship reactors, the Justice Department said.

“The Toebbes betrayed the American people and placed our national security at significant risk when they selfishly attempted to sell highly sensitive information related to nuclear warships for their own financial gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Brice Miller of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). ) Office of special projects.

Jonathan Toebe sent a package to an unidentified foreign government containing a sample of restricted data and instructions for establishing a classified relationship so he could buy more US nuclear secrets.

Through encrypted e-mail, Toebbe began a correspondence with a man he believed to be a foreign government official. But the man was actually an undercover FBI agent, the Justice Department said.

After months of correspondence, Toebbe agreed to sell limited data in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

FBI agents arrested the couple in October 2021 after they discovered several “dead drops” of classified nuclear secrets in Virginia and West Virginia. In one location, they left a computer memory stick hidden inside a peanut butter sandwich and another in a bubble gum wrapper.

They were eventually paid about $100,000 in cryptocurrency, the Justice Department said.

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