Diana Toebbe and Jonathan Toebbe are a husband and wife who are facing espionage-related charges after authorities say they stole nuclear-powered submarine secrets to sell to a foreign power. Jonathan Toebbe is a nuclear engineer for the U.S. Department of Navy and his wife is a teacher at a private school in Maryland. They were charged with violations of the Atomic Energy Act on October 9, 2021, federal prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the Toebbes thought they were communicating with a representative of the unnamed foreign country, but really they were talking to an undercover FBI agent. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement, “The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation. The work of the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Department of Energy was critical in thwarting the plot charged in the complaint and taking this first step in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
Jonathan Toebbe reached out to the foreign government in April 2020 in an attempt to begin a covert relationship to sell the restricted information, but the country reported the contact to the FBI, federal prosecutors said. The Toebbes received a $10,000 payment in cryptocurrency from the undercover agent as part of the investigation and made multiple “dead drops” to hand over the top-secret documents related to nuclear-powered warships, according to the criminal complaint.