Maryland couple sentenced for selling secret data related to nuclear-powered warship

A Maryland couple was sentenced Wednesday for conspiracy to communicate restricted data related to the design, manufacture, and utilization of nuclear-powered warships, prosecutors said.

Jonathan Toebbe, 44, of Annapolis, was sentenced to more than 19 years of incarceration. His wife, Diana, 46, was sentenced to more than 21 years.

The couple pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in August 2022.

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.
(West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP)

Before his arrest, Jonathan Toebbe was employed at the Department of the Navy. He served as a nuclear engineer and was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Toebbe held an active national security clearance, giving him access to restricted data concerning the design, manufacture, or utilization of atomic weapons.

According to court documents, Toebbe began a monthslong correspondence with an individual he thought was from a foreign government but was actually an undercover FBI agent, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said. The correspondence led to an agreement to sell “Restricted Data” in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

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Per the DOJ, Restricted Data concerns the design, manufacture, or utilization of atomic weapons or the production of Special Nuclear Material (SNM).

On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent Toebbe $10,000 in cryptocurrency as a “good faith” payment. Later that month, Toebbe supplied the undercover agent with an SC card containing military-sensitive design elements relating to submarine nuclear reactors at a pre-arranged location.

The undercover agent sent Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment for the SD card. In return, Toebbe emailed the undercover agent a decryption key for the SD card. A review of the SD card revealed that it contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. Toebbe made another “dead drop” of an SD card in Eastern Virginia the following month.

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After making a payment to Jonathan Toebbe of $70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card, which also contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. The FBI arrested Toebbe and his wife on Oct. 9, 2021 after he placed yet another SD card at a pre-arranged “dead drop” at a second location in West Virginia.