nuclear engineer from Maryland and his spouse arrested for espionage | Takeover bid
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both from Annapolis, Md., Were arrested in Jefferson County, West Virginia, by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Saturday, October 9. They will appear for the first time on Tuesday, October 9. 12, in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia. For nearly a year, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, assisted by his wife Diana, 45, sold information known as Restricted Data regarding the design of nuclear-powered warships to someone they believed be a representative of a foreign power. In fact, this person was an undercover FBI agent. The Toebbes have been indicted in a criminal complaint alleging violations of the atomic energy law.
“The complaint accuses a conspiracy to pass information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign country,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The work of the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, the Navy Criminal Investigation Service and the Department of Energy has been essential in thwarting the conspiracy accused in the complaint and in taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice. in justice. “
Jonathan Toebbe is a Department of the Navy employee who served as a nuclear engineer and was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors. He held an active national security clearance through the US Department of Defense, giving him access to restricted data. Toebbe has worked with and had access to information regarding naval nuclear propulsion, including information relating to sensitive military design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of nuclear powered warships’ reactors.
The complaint affidavit alleges that on April 1, 2020, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh, Pa., Containing a sample of restricted data and instructions for establishing a secret relationship to buy. additional restricted data. The affidavit also alleges that, subsequently, Toebbe began to correspond via encrypted email with someone he believed to be a foreign government official. The individual was truly an FBI secret agent. Jonathan Toebbe continued this correspondence for several months, which resulted in an agreement to sell Restricted Data in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe $ 10,000 in cryptocurrency as a “good faith” payment. Shortly thereafter, on June 26, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe visited West Virginia. There, with Diana Toebbe acting as a lookout, Jonathan Toebbe placed an SD card concealed in a half peanut butter sandwich in a pre-set location. After recovering the SD card, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a payment of $ 20,000 in cryptocurrency. In return, Jonathan Toebbe emailed the undercover agent a decryption key for the SD card. A review of the SD card revealed that it contained limited data related to submarine nuclear reactors. On August 28, Jonathan Toebbe made another SD card “dead drop” in eastern Virginia, this time hiding the card in a packet of gum. After making a payment to Toebbe of $ 70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card. It also contained limited data relating to nuclear submarine reactors. The FBI arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe on October 9, after placing another SD card in a pre-arranged dead drop at a second location in West Virginia.
Trial Lawyers Matthew J. McKenzie and S. Derek Shugert of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the National Security Division, United States Deputy Prosecutors Jarod J. Douglas and Lara Omps-Botteicher of the Northern District of West Virginia, and US Special Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar for the Western District of Pennsylvania are pursuing the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and NCIS are investigating the case.
A complaint is only an accusation. An accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.