Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

A marine engine nuclear engineer and his wife from Maryland were destroyed for trying to sell confidential information about U.S. nuclear-powered submarines to a foreign land using memory cards tucked inside a peanut butter sandwich and a Band-Aid wrap to convey the secrets, according to legal documents.

Jonathan Toebbe, who worked at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and had a top-secret security clearance, and his wife, Diana, were busted in Jefferson County, W.Va., on Saturday, accused by the FBI of violating the Atomic Energy Act, the Justice Department said Sunday.

Toebbe, 42, “has passed and continues to pass on limited data as defined in the Atomic Energy Act … with the witty assistance of his spouse,” reads the criminal complaint.

The espionage investigation began in December 2020, when an FBI official received a package sent to a foreign country containing naval documents, a desire to initiate a “hidden relationship” and instructions on the use of “encrypted communications.”

“Please send this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a scam, “said a note inside the package with the return address to Pittsburgh.

After checking the validity of the confidential information, FBI agents posing as spies from the unidentified foreign country began communicating via email with Toebbe.

They initially contacted him at the end of December 2020 and confirmed that they would work with him and would contact him on how to proceed, authorities claim.

After several email exchanges, Toebbe reportedly wrote in March 2021 that he would deliver the documents in return for cryptocurrency payments.

FBI agents agreed to pay him $ 10,000 in advance and an additional $ 20,000 after the information he provided was confirmed, and they worked out a “dead fall” in Jefferson County in June.

The Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780) departs from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a planned deployment in the 7th Fleet's area of ​​responsibility, September 1, 2021
Jonathan Toebbe and his wife used memory cards tucked inside a peanut butter sandwich and a Band-Aid wrap to convey the secrets.
Amanda R. Gray / US Navy via AP, File

Toebbe and his wife were seen at the “dead drop” place where Diana, 45, was “looking” for her husband, the complaint reads.

Afterwards, the FBI restored an SD card that was “wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on half a peanut sandwich. The half sandwich was placed inside a plastic bag,” the complaint reads.

Another “dead drop” was held on July 31 in Pennsylvania.

This time, the SD card was “hidden in a sealed Band-Aid wrapper with a Band-Aid inside a clear Zip Lock bag”, the court documents state.

In another “dead fall” in Virginia in August, FBI agents claim that Toebbe put an SD card in a packet of chewing gum.

All of the memory cards contained information about the design of Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

The couple were bumped Saturday when they showed up at another “dead fall” spot in West Virginia.

They are expected to appear in federal court in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Tuesday.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.


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