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HomeNewsEx-Navy engineer who hid intel in a peanut butter sandwich pleads guilty

Ex-Navy engineer who hid intel in a peanut butter sandwich pleads guilty

A former Navy engineer accused of attempting to promote delicate secrets and techniques concerning the Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines to a international nation by hiding them in a peanut butter sandwich modified his plea to responsible, federal courtroom paperwork reveal.

Jonathan Toebbe’s spouse, Diana Toebbe, additionally pleaded responsible after she was accused of serving to him conduct surveillance to find out whether or not they had been being adopted.

The couple, of Annapolis, Maryland, had initially pleaded not responsible following their arrests final yr. They modified their pleas to responsible earlier this yr to at least one felony rely every of conspiracy to speak restricted knowledge. U.S. District Decide Gina Groh final month rejected the pleas, saying the sentencing choices appeared “strikingly poor” contemplating the seriousness of the costs.

A Homeland Safety police officer walks along with his sniffing canine exterior of the U.S. District Courthouse in Martinsburg, W.Va., on Oct. 12, 2021.Jose Luis Magana / AP file

On the time, the deal would have despatched Jonathan Toebbe to jail for 12 years, whereas Diana Toebbe was to serve three years.

Beneath Tuesday’s new responsible plea, they might every face a most sentence of life in jail and a $100,000 advantageous, though prosecutors are asking for a sentence for Diana Toebbe on the lowest finish of the rule of thumb vary.

Their attorneys didn’t instantly return a request for touch upon Tuesday.

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Jonathan Toebbe, who began working with the Navy in 2012, was arrested final yr in West Virginia on suspicion of conspiracy to speak restricted knowledge and different crimes. His spouse, a former instructor in Maryland, was arrested on allegations that she assisted him.

Prosecutors mentioned Jonathan Toebbe mailed a package deal of categorised data in April 2020 to representatives of a international nation that he was attempting to develop a relationship with, in keeping with a legal grievance.

He provided to disclose extra secrets and techniques in trade for tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} in cryptocurrency. Officers within the nation, which authorities didn’t title, alerted the U.S., and the FBI reached out to Jonathan Toebbe, pretending to be from the nation he contacted.

The residence of Jonathan and Diana Toebbe
The residence of Jonathan and Diana Toebbe on in Annapolis, Md. on Oct. 10, 2021, a day after neighbors say the home was searched by FBI brokers.Brian Witte / AP file

The grievance mentioned that Jonathan Toebbe solely needed to deal strictly by electronic mail at first however later agreed to retailer knowledge on reminiscence playing cards that he would go away at designated “useless drop” areas.

Throughout one drop in West Virginia, he hid the reminiscence card in plastic that he positioned in a peanut butter sandwich, in keeping with the grievance. Throughout one other, he allegedly put the cardboard in a Band-Assist wrapper and a plastic bag. The grievance described one other occasion the place Jonathan Toebbe put the cardboard in a chewing gum package deal.

Prosecutors mentioned the delicate data contained particulars about Virginia-class submarines, that are nuclear-powered quick assault warships.

By August of 2021, Jonathan Toebbe had obtained $100,000 in Monero, a cryptocurrency, from the FBI agent he thought was his international contact.

FBI Agent Peter Olinits, who labored on the case, beforehand mentioned the Toebbes had been recognized when the investigators noticed them return to a automotive that was registered to Diana Toebbe. Olinits mentioned the couple wore climbing garments and had been “dressed to mix in.”

If the courtroom doesn’t settle for the newest plea settlement, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe would once more have the best to withdraw their responsible pleas.

Ken Dilanian, Pete Williams and Tim Stelloh contributed.

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