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A Navy engineer and his wife, who are accused of selling nuclear secrets to an undisclosed foreign country, were indicted on national security charges this week, federal prosecutors announced.
Jonathan Toebbe, 42, and Diana Toebbe, 45, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data.
The couple is accused of violating the Atomic Energy Act by selling restricted data on nuclear reactors aboard warships to an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative for a foreign power, the indictment, obtained by Oxygen.com alleges. They’ve pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In recent months, the couple allegedly smuggled memory cards to federal agents containing sensitive schematic designs of the U.S. Navy’s Virginia-class stealth attack submarines using peanut butter sandwiches, Band-Aids, and chewing gum wrappers at dead drop sites in several states. The FBI ultimately paid Jonathan and Diana Toebbe $100,000 in Monero cryptocurrency in exchange for a sampling of the illicit data, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
The couple, who communicated with the FBI using encrypted messaging, allegedly left their youngest child home alone for hours on end while they rendezvoused at dead drop sites, an FBI agent testified in court this week, according to the New York Post. The hearing was part of a detention proceeding for Diana Toebbe.
“They would not have been able to contact their parents,” FBI Special Agent Peter Olinits said in court.
Jonathan Toebbe, a former Navy nuclear engineer, had top-level access to sensitive military data at the time of his communication with undercover agents.
Both Toebbes were ultimately remanded to federal custody pending trial, according to a detention order obtained by Oxygen.com on Thursday afternoon.
The couple was officially indicted on Tuesday on national security charges. The pair were initially arrested on Oct. 9 in Jefferson County, West Virginia, federal officials announced earlier this month.
The couple pose a flight risk, a federal judge previously said. They’d allegedly kept a “go bag” at their residence in case the need arose to flee the country, the FBI said.
“I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice,” Jonathan Toebbe had allegedly written his FBI fixer shortly before his arrest, according to the complaint. “We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose. I pray such a drastic plan will never be needed.”
Prior to her arrest, Diana Toebbe, who acted as a lookout for her spouse at dead drop sites, federal agents said, worked as a humanities teacher at Key School in Annapolis. She’s since been suspended, pending investigation.
Lawyers representing both Jonathan Toebbe and Diana Toebbe haven't responded to multiple requests for comment on the federal case from Oxygen.com.
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