Husband and Wife Plead Guilty to Espionage-Related Charges, Disclosed Restricted Data to Undercover FBI Agent

A husband and wife, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to communicate restricted data, as the husband attempted to disclose confidential information to someone he believed was a representative of a foreign government.

Originally, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, listing an address in Pittsburgh for the return. The package contained a sample of restricted data, related to his work as a nuclear engineer assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Following the initial delivery, he established a relationship with someone he believed to be from another country. The individual and Toebee communicated for several months, finally agreeing to purchase more information for thousands of dollars.

However, the entire time, Toebee was speaking to an undercover FBI agent, according to the Department of Justice.

“Among the secrets the U.S. government most zealously protects are those related to the design of its nuclear warship weapons systems,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The defendant was entrusted with some of those secrets and instead of guarding them, he betrayed the trust placed in him and conspired to sell them to another country for personal profit. The Department of Justice will vigilantly protect the American people and our nation’s security by investigating and prosecuting those who violate their constitutional oath and abuse their positions for personal gain.”

Toebee and his wife were arrested after the FBI sent a $10,000 “good faith” payment, and Toebee delivered an SD card with information about military sensitive design elements relating to submarine nuclear reactors to a specific location for a “dead drop.”

Similar occurrences happened two additional times, and his wife served as a lookout during all three operations.

“The FBI is relentless in its efforts to uncover those who seek to do our nation harm by targeting our most valuable secrets,” said Special Agent in Charge Mike Nordwall of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office. “This case is an example of the hard work and diligence of the FBI and our federal partners to neutralize and hold accountable those people who threaten our national security.”

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Pennsylvania Daily Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Courtroom” by Karen Neoh. CC BY 2.0.


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