Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, both of Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested in Jefferson County, West Virginia, by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Saturday, Oct. 9. Their initial appearances will be Tuesday, October. 12, at Martinsburg’s federal court. Jonathan Toebbe, 42, was an who, with the assistance of his wife Diana, , sold Restricted Data (information about nuclear-powered warships) to someone they thought was a representative from a foreign power for almost a whole year. This person was actually an undercover FBI agent. In a criminal complaint, the Toebbes were charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act.
The complaint alleges a plot to send information about the design of nuclear submarines to foreign nations,” stated Attorney General Merrick Garland. The FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services were instrumental in stopping the plot and taking the first step to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice .”
Jonathan Toebbe, an employee of the Department of the Navy, was a nuclear engineer assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program also known as Naval Reactors. Toebbe was granted active national security clearance by the U.S. Department of Defense. This gave him access to restricted data. Toebbe was a naval propulsion specialist and had access information about the operating parameters, performance characteristics and military sensitive design elements of nuclear-powered warships.
The complaint affidavit states that 2020, Jonathan Toebbe mailed a package to a foreign country on April 1st, listing a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania return address. It contained a sample of Restricted Data, instructions for creating a covert relationship, and instructions to purchase additional Restricted Data. According to the affidavit, Toebbe started interacting via encrypted email with a person he believed was a representative from the foreign government. This was actually an undercover FBI agent. Jonathan Toebbe maintained this correspondence for many months. This led to an agreement for Restricted Data to be sold in exchange for thousands in cryptocurrency.
On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan Toebbe as “good faith” payment. Soon after, Diana Toebbe and Jonathan Toebbe went to West Virginia on June 26,. With Diana Toebbe as a watchdog, Jonathan Toebbe concealed an SD card in half of a peanut butter sandwich at a prearranged “deaddrop” location. After retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment. Jonathan Toebbe sent the undercover agent a key to decrypt the SD Card. The SD card contained Restricted Data relating to submarine nuclear reactors. August Jonathan Toebbe made a second “deaddrop” of an SD-card in eastern Virginia. This time, he concealed the card in a chewing gum packet. After making a payment to Toebbe of $70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card. It also contained Restricted Data relating to submarine nuclear reactors. After placing yet another SD card at an “unarranged dead drop” in West Virginia, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were arrested by the FBI on October 9.
Trial Matthew J. McKenzie and S. Derek Shugert, both from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Sections, were arrested by the FBI. The government is prosecuting the case through Jarod J. Doug and Lara Omps–Botteicher, both of the Northern District of West Virginia. Special Assistant U.S. attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar of the Western District of Pennsylvania is also involved. The case is under investigation by the FBI and NCIS.
A complaint is only an accusation. Unless and until proven guilty, a defendant is presumed innocent.
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