Navy Engineer, Wife Accused Of Trying To Sell Nuclear Submarine Secrets

By Bill Galluccio

October 11, 2021

High Angle View Of Navy Submarine In Sea Against Sky
Photo: Getty Images

A Navy engineer with a top-secret security clearance has been charged with trying to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign agent. His wife was also arrested and is accused of helping him with his attempts to sell the classified information.

Authorities said that Jonathan Toebbe, 42, reached out to a foreign government in April 2020 and offered to sell intelligence about the Navy's nuclear submarines. A few months later, an undercover FBI agent responded to Toebbe's request and contacted him using an encrypted messaging program.

After gaining Toebbe's trust, the agent tried to arrange an in-person meeting, but Toebbee refused and instead agreed to hand off the information using a dead drop. Toebbe hid the classified intelligence in a peanut butter sandwich and left it at the agreed-upon location. After confirming the information was legitimate, the agent sent Toebbe $20,000 in cryptocurrency and worked to set up another dead drop.

Toebbe conducted two additional dead drops and received $100,000 in compensation before he was taken into custody. He was charged with espionage-related charges for violating the Atomic Energy Act. His wife was also arrested and is accused of running surveillance when he conducted the dead drops.

"The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of our nuclear submarines to a foreign nation," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. "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."

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