Maryland nuclear engineer and his wife indicted in Elkins on national security charges


These booking photos released Oct. 9, 2021, by the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority show Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe. Federal prosecutors accused the Maryland couple in a plot to sell sensitive U.S. submarine secrets to a foreign government. A West Virginia judge granted a detention request from prosecutors Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, meaning the couple will remain behind bars for now (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP)

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, a couple from Maryland, were indicted by a Grand Jury in Elkins, West Virginia today on national security charges.

Jonathan, 42, and Diana 45, are each charged with one count of “Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data” and two counts of “Communication of Restricted Data” after their initial arrest back in October 9, 2021.

The indictment alleges that Jonathan Toebbe and his wife sold restricted data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships to an undercover FBI agent who they believed was a representative of a foreign power.

Jonathan Toebbe, an employee of the Department of the Navy, served as a nuclear engineer and was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors and used his national security clearance to access the restricted data.

According to the indictment, on April 1, 2020, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package containing a sample of restricted data to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From there, Jonathan Toebbe set up an agreement to sell more restricted data in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

Other notable incidents include:

  • June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan Toebbe as “good faith” payment.
  • June 26, 2021, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe traveled to a location in West Virginia where Jonathan Toebbe placed an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-arranged “dead drop” location as his wife Diana Toebbe acted as a lookout. After the SD card was retrieved, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment to gain the decryption key for the SD card. The SD card contained restricted data related to submarine nuclear reactors.
  • August 28, 2021, Jonathan Toebbe made another “dead drop”, this time in eastern Virginia. Toebbe was given a payment of $70,000 in cryptocurrency. The SD card also contained restricted data related to submarine nuclear reactors.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe were arrested by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on October 9, 2021 after another SD card “dead drop” at a second location in West Virginia.

Trial Attorneys Matthew J. McKenzie and S. Derek Shugert, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Lara Omps-Botteicher, Northern District of West Virginia, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Lieber Smolar, Western District of Pennsylvania, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the NCIS investigated.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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