A U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife entered guilty pleas on Tuesday in the investigation into an alleged plot to make secret information about nuclear-powered warships. This comes just a month after their prior plea agreements which called for specific sentencing guidelines had been not accepted.
Jonathan as well as Diana Toebbe of Annapolis, Maryland, and Diana Toebbe of Annapolis, Maryland faced the federal courts with one count of a felony for each conspiracy charge to transmit restricted information.
U.S. District Judge Gina Groh has rejected last month’s couples’ initial pleas for the same charges, stating that the options for sentencing are “strikingly deficient” considering the seriousness of the situation. They then immediately retracted their initial guilty pleas, and Groh scheduled the trial date for January.
The earlier sentencing range that was negotiated by the lawyers of Jonathan Toebbe suggested the possibility of a punishment ranging from 12 to 17 years behind bars. Prosecutors on Tuesday said the sentence would be among the most significant sentences imposed in recent times pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Prosecutors also requested three years of imprisonment for Diana Toebbe.
According to the plea deal that was signed today in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble The couple could each receive a maximum penalty of life in prison as well as an amount of $100,000 in fines, however, prosecutors are seeking an order for Diana Toebbe at the bottom of the range for guideline guidelines.
If the court refuses to agree to the latest deal the defendants would be able to remove their guilty pleas.
Prosecutors alleged that Jonathan Toebbe, 43, misused his access to top-secret government documents and offered details of the design components and the performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarines who he believed to be an agent of a foreign government, but was in fact an uninvolved FBI agent.
Diana Toebbe, 46, who was the teacher at an exclusive institution located in Maryland during the time of their arrest in October of last year was accused of serving as a watchman at various scheduled “dead-drop” locations at which memory cards that contained the secret data were left at the scene.
Memory cards are that were hidden within objects like chewing gum wrappers or the sandwich of peanut butter. The couple was detained after the suspect placed a memory chip at a dead location located in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
The information was not classified as top-secret or secret, and falls in the third category of secret, as per earlier testimony.
The FBI has confirmed that the plot began in April of 2020 when Jonathan Toebbe sent a package of Navy documents to a foreign government. He stated that he wanted to sell to the government of that country operational documents, performance reports, and other sensitive data. The package, along with an address for return to Pittsburgh return address and instructions to his supposed contact on how to create a covert connection with him, the investigators stated.
The package was seized by The FBI in December of 2020 via its legal attache office located in an unspecified foreign nation. The incident triggered a month-long undercover investigation in which an agent who claimed to be an official representative from the foreign nation met to Toebbe and eventually paid $100,000 in cryptocurrency for the details Toebbe was willing to share.
The country in which he wanted to sell the information has not been mentioned in court documents and has not been revealed in court.
Prosecutors claimed that the government has obtained classified information from the files Jonathan Toebbe had saved on electronic devices as well as the “substantial amount” of the cryptocurrency.
When they searched the home of the couple, FBI agents found a garbage bag containing shredded documents as well as thousands of dollars of cash, passports for children that were valid as well as a “go-bag” containing a USB flash drive and gloves made of latex in court, as evidenced by the testimony of a judge earlier this year.
Diana Toebbe’s attorneys in a hearing held in December 2021 did not deny prosecution allegations that referenced 2019 conversations between the couple, in which she was contemplating leaving for the United States to avoid arrest. The defense argued that it was resentment towards then-President Donald Trump as the reason for the couple’s decision to leave.