A former Navy nuclear engineer admitted in federal courtroom on Monday that he tried to promote delicate secrets and techniques about nuclear-powered warships to a overseas nation.
Jonathan Toebbe, 43, pleaded responsible in federal courtroom in West Virginia to conspiring to speak restricted knowledge, admitting to U.S. Justice of the Peace Decide Robert Trumble that he had sought to promote U.S. secrets and techniques “in change for fee with the intent to injure the USA.” Beneath his cope with federal prosecutors, he faces a sentence of roughly between 12 and 17 years in jail. No sentencing date has been set.
“Among the many secrets and techniques the U.S. authorities most zealously protects are these associated to the design of its nuclear-powered warships,” Assistant Atty Gen. Matthew G. Olsen stated in an announcement. “The defendant was entrusted with a few of these secrets and techniques and as a substitute of guarding them, he betrayed the belief positioned in him and conspired to promote them to a different nation for private revenue.”
Toebbe additionally agreed to show over all delicate authorities info in his possession, and to return about $100,000 in cryptocurrency that the undercover FBI agent paid him in change for the extremely restricted info.
The Annapolis, Md., man and his spouse, Diana, had been arrested in October after a yearlong FBI sting investigation during which the couple believed they had been promoting secrets and techniques to a overseas authorities. An legal professional for Toebbe didn’t reply to an electronic mail searching for remark.
Toebbe’s plea didn’t resolve the fees involving his spouse.
Toebbe served as a nuclear engineer within the Navy and had a safety clearance that gave him entry to secrets and techniques concerning the propulsion programs of nuclear-powered warships.
In April 2020, the FBI alleged, the Toebbes despatched a bundle to a overseas authorities that contained secret authorities info and directions on methods to contact him. The federal government, which was not recognized in courtroom papers, forwarded the knowledge to the FBI and the company started its undercover sting operation in December of that yr.
An FBI agent, pretending to be a consultant of the overseas authorities, started months of electronic mail correspondence with Toebbe searching for to rearrange the sale of U.S. secrets and techniques, based on courtroom papers.
In June, the secret agent despatched $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Toebbe as a “good religion fee,” courtroom papers allege. A couple of weeks later, courtroom papers say, Toebbe and his spouse traveled to an organized “useless drop” location in West Virginia, the place he left a knowledge card hidden in a peanut butter sandwich. His spouse allegedly stood as lookout.
The secret agent despatched Toebbe $20,000 in cryptocurrency in change for the knowledge, which contained info on submarine nuclear reactors, courtroom papers stated.
The secret agent paid Toebbe $70,000 in cryptocurrency in change in August for one more knowledge card, this time hid in a chewing gum bundle left at a “useless drop” in Virginia.
He and his spouse had been arrested by the FBI and the Navy’s Prison Investigation Service in West Virginia on October 9 as they dropped off extra authorities secrets and techniques.