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Navy engineer accused of trying to sell secret information on peanut butter sandwich

2021-10-11T14:09:55.419Z

Jonathan Toebbe, 42, had access to military secrets and was arrested Saturday in West Virginia after attempting to conspire with an undercover FBI agent.



By Tim Stelloh and Ken Dilanian -

NBC News

A Navy nuclear engineer with access to military secrets has been charged with attempting to sell information about the design of American nuclear submarines in a peanut butter sandwich to a person he believed to be a representative of a foreign government and turned out to be an undercover agent. from the FBI, the Justice Department reported Sunday.

The man, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, was arrested Saturday in West Virginia on suspicion of conspiracy to communicate restricted data and other crimes and faces charges related to espionage, according to federal prosecutors for the northern district of the state in a statement.

[A Navy nuclear submarine collides with an object in the Pacific]

His wife, Diana Toebbe, 45, a teacher in Maryland, was arrested on charges of helping him.

A criminal complaint alleges that Toebbe - who began working with the Navy in 2012 - sent a package of military documents and other files to a military intelligence agency in the country with which he was trying to establish a relationship.

The package ended up in the hands of the FBI attaché in the country that was not identified, according to the complaint.

Starting in February, an undercover FBI agent began emailing Toebbe - who allegedly used the nickname Alice - through an encrypted messaging service, according to the complaint.

The defendant provided him in the following months with documents containing restricted details about the Virginia-class submarines, which are fast nuclear-powered warships.


The USS Virginia returns to the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, after its first sea trials, on Friday, July 30, 2004.Jack Sauer / AP

On June 26, FBI agents observed Toebbe leaving what was supposedly an SD card [removable memory used to store digital information] wrapped in plastic and placed in a peanut butter sandwich at a delivery location in West Virginia, according to the complaint.

During another delivery, he used band-aid wrap and a plastic bag to hide an SD card, the complaint says.

The documents accuse Diana Toebbe of monitoring to determine if they were being followed.

[An agreement on nuclear submarines causes a diplomatic conflict between the United States and France]

On August 28, the FBI had paid Jonathan Toebbe $ 100,000 in Monero, a cryptocurrency, according to the documents.

The next day, he sent an email thanking the person he believed to be a foreign agent for their cooperation.

“One day when it's safe, maybe two old friends will have a chance to bump into each other at a cafe, share a bottle of wine, and laugh at the stories of their shared exploits.

I will always remember your courage in serving your country and your commitment to help me, ”he wrote.

The couple are scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Source: telemundo

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