Couple who tried to sell nuclear secrets sentenced to long jail term


A naval engineer who tried to sell military secrets to a foreign country was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison on Wednesday, while his wife was sentenced to less than 22 years for aiding his plans and trying to hide her role.

Jonathan Toebbe, a civilian nuclear engineer with a top-secret security clearance, and Diana Toebbe, a private school teacher in their hometown of Annapolis, admitted they attempted to sell restricted data about the submarine’s nuclear propulsion system to a foreign country – a violation of the Atomic Energy Act. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

According to his guilty plea, Jonathan Toby provided thousands of pages of documents that were not mentioned in court documents to undercover FBI agents posing as foreign representatives for several months in 2021. The restricted data includes “some of the most secure and sensitive information about our nuclear-powered fleet,” according to Vice Admiral U.S. Navy, commander of the U.S. submarine force. William J. Houston.

The documents describe the inner workings of a state-of-the-art attack submarine, which cost about $3 billion to produce. Court documents show Jonathan Toebbe has worked for nearly a decade on the Navy’s nuclear propulsion technology, which enables submarines to stay underwater longer and move more stealthily.

U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh called the Toebbes “confessed traitors” who committed “horrific acts against this country.” Gros said the Maryland couple’s crime was one of the worst she had ever seen in court and “could cause harm to American soldiers, troops and civilians.” Although Jonathan Toby’s position gave him access to sensitive data, Diana Toby received a longer sentence because a judge found she obstructed justice and was not entitled to a reduced sentence for taking responsibility.

“The harm to this country is severe, and this is a terrible time for us to live in,” the judge said Wednesday at a sentencing hearing in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Who are the Tobbs accused of trying to sell military secrets to foreign countries?

Prosecutors say Jonathan Toebbe, 44, collected initial data on tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency payments to undercover FBI agents and at one point offered to hand over what he said he “smuggled” through security checkpoints 51 Packet information. His price, according to the October 2021 indictment: $5 million in cryptocurrency.

Diana Toby, 46, admitted she acted as a lookout in three “dead spots” in which her husband left data cards at prearranged locations – hiding them in a pack of chewing gum, a bandage wrapper and half a peanut butter sandwich.

Jonathan Toebbe left a message saying he and his accomplices were going to flee the United States: “We have cash and passports,” the indictment said.

Defense attorneys say the Toebbes, who have two sons, 12 and 16, are seeking to leave the United States because of their opposition to President Donald Trump. The FBI searched their Annapolis home for their children’s passports, thousands of dollars in cash, shredded documents and a “carry bag” containing flash drives and latex gloves.

“I believe my family is in dire threat and that democracy itself is on the verge of collapse. I’m overwhelmed by that catastrophic thought,” Jonathan Toby said at the sentencing hearing. He described himself as an overworked family man who “medicated himself with alcohol” during a nervous breakdown that lasted more than a year.

“I have failed in my duty to the American people to protect the secrets entrusted to me,” he said.

Diana Torbay told the judge she regretted her “disastrous decision”.

“I should have followed my gut and tried to convince my husband to drop the plan, but then my family difficulties continued, my depression was at an all-time high, and I felt the political situation in this country was terrible,” she said. “Not only did I not convince him to drop this thing; I actually got involved in helping him, and I wanted him to succeed. At the time, I thought, ridiculously, that it was a way out of these struggles.”

The Toebbes first pleaded guilty in February, but Groh rejected the agreements with prosecutors, saying they were “grossly inadequate.” They will demand 12.5 to 17.5 years in prison for Jonathan Torbay and three years for Diana Torbay.

Diana Toby faces a minimum of 12.5 years in prison and Jonathan Toby faces a longer term after pleading guilty under the amended terms in September.

Groh sentenced Diana Toebbe to 21 years and 10 months in prison, aggravating her sentence because, according to the judge, she tried to communicate with her husband through a handwritten letter she wrote in prison urging him to plead guilty and deploy a Cover Story She has nothing to do with the plan.

Prosecutors did not tell the court about the letters, which were brought to the attention of a probation officer in charge of the case on October 10. 4, said Gros. Prison officials intercepted the letters, one of which was hidden in a laundry bag.

“It’s an extraordinary story. It’s one of a kind in a movie,” Gros said of Tobbs.

After a revised guilty plea in September, prosecutors continued to seek three years in prison for Diana Toby. Groo asked at Wednesday’s hearing what that meant after she rejected an earlier deal that called for a three-year prison sentence.

“36 months was a significant reason for me not to accept the original binding request,” the judge said, adding that Diana Toby appeared to be “driving a bus” trying to sell military secrets.

Diana Tobey’s lawyers have argued that sentences of three to nearly five years would be “consistent with, and in some cases longer than, sentences imposed on other accomplices” in similar cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod Douglas said “she was not someone with access” and “was just watching on two or three occasions.”

“Her husband had a bad money-making idea and she agreed to take it,” defense attorney Barry P. Baker said in court filings in August. Baker said at the sentencing hearing Jonathan Toebbe Initiated the scheme and was the one whose government position gave him access to the data.

“Mrs. Toby is a housewife, a teacher with a liberal arts degree, and doesn’t know what these things mean,” Baker said.

Jonathan Torbay was cooperating with the Department of the Navy and other authorities, prosecutors said. His public defender, Nicholas J. Compton, said it showed Jonathan Tobey did not hate America and took responsibility for his actions.

“No one had a gun to his head,” Compton added. “And whether Mrs. Toby was driving the train, he was the one who got the information.”

Compton said his client’s cooperation with the authorities included not only “the specific cases we’re discussing here today, but also … information that the government doesn’t even know about.”

Jonathan Toebbe told the judge he had been briefed by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Division to help the bureau develop better ways to identify “insider threats” in the government and “raise a better profile for people like me, hopefully they Might be able to intervene sooner and prevent the next threat – not only to protect the country, but to save that lost soul.”

Groh sentenced Jonathan Toebbe to 19 years and four months in prison and said she did not believe he was trying to protect his family from the Trump presidency.

“In a way that reads like a crime novel or a movie script, the defendant abused his position of trust … threatening national security,” Gros said, adding that he “puts every citizen of this country in Weakness.”

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