Navy engineer, wife sentenced after trying to sell US nuclear submarines secrets

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, November 10, 2022
Maryland couple sentenced in plot to sell nuclear-powered submarine secrets
U.S. Navy engineer and his wife, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, were convicted in a plot to sell secrets about nuclear-powered submarines

Long sentences were handed down Wednesday to a couple convicted in a plot to sell our country's secrets about nuclear powered submarines.

A judge sentenced former Navy nuclear engineer Jonathan Toebee to 19 years in prison. His wife, Diana, also received 21 years behind bars.

The judge noted that she attempted to pin the crime solely on her husband to avoid prison time herself.

Prosecutors allege they violated the Atomic Energy Act in a plot to transmit information relating to the design of U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign nation, and if convicted, they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly communicated through encryption services with an undercover FBI agent and attempted to sell submarine data that was restricted, according to an unsealed criminal complaint.

The government says he sold information for nearly the past year to a contact he believed represented a foreign power.

The complaint said Jonathan Toebbe wrote to the undercover FBI agent about leaving on short notice.

"I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family," he writes in an encrypted email, according to the complaint. "I surmise the first step would be unannounced travel to a safe third country with plans to meet your colleagues. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose. I pray such a drastic plan will never be needed, but you are right: it is a comfort to know you are ready and willing to aid us."

Diana worked for a private school in their humanities department for 10 years and was suspended indefinitely in October 2021, a school spokesperson told ABC News. The head of Key School, a private, K-12 independent school in Annapolis, Maryland, made clear the school is not involved in or connected to the investigation into Toebbe.