CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A Maryland woman pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a conspiracy with her husband to sell submarine secrets to foreign countries.
Diana Toebbe pleaded guilty in federal court in Martinsburg to one count of restricted data communications conspiracy. Prosecutors said they would ask for a prison sentence of up to three years upon sentencing.
Her husband, Jonathan, a Navy nuclear engineer, pleaded guilty on Monday to passing information about US nuclear-powered warships to someone he thought was a representative of the foreign government. but is actually an undercover FBI agent.
Diana Toebbe was accused of acting as a custodian of several pre-arranged “corpse” locations where memory cards containing secret information were left. At the time of her arrest, Diana Toebbe was teaching at a private school in Maryland.
When he pleaded guilty to the same charges as his wife, Jonathan Toebbe, 43, faced possible penalties of 12 to 17 years in prison, a sentencing range agreed upon by lawyers.
Prosecutors said he abused government access to top-secret information and repeatedly sold details about the design elements and operational characteristics of the Virginia-class submarine.
Jonathan Toebbe admitted during his plea hearing that he conspired with his wife to pass on classified information to foreign governments in exchange for money with the aim of “harming the United States.”
Memory cards are devices that are hidden in objects like gum packs and peanut butter sandwiches. The Annapolis, Maryland, couple were arrested October 9 after he placed a memory card at a body drop site in Jefferson County, West Virginia.
The FBI says the scheme began in April 2020, when Jonathan Toebbe sent a package of Navy documents to a foreign government and wrote that he wanted to sell that country an operational manual, performance report and other sensitive information. Prosecutors said he included in the package with a return address in Pittsburgh, instructions to his alleged contact on how to establish a confidential relationship with him.
That package was obtained by the FBI in December 2020 through its legal attache’s office in an unspecified foreign country. That set off a months-long covert operation in which an agent posing as a foreign representative contacted Toebbe, ultimately paying $100,000 in cryptocurrency in exchange for information Toebbe provided. grant.
The country from which Jonathan Toebbe is seeking to sell the information has yet to be identified in court documents and was not disclosed in court during his wife’s plea hearing on Friday.
Jonathan Toebbe, who holds top secret confidential information through the Department of Defense, agreed as part of a plea agreement to help federal officials identify and retrieve all classified information in his possession. property, as well as approximately $100,000 in cryptocurrency paid to him by the FBI.
FBI agents searching the couple’s home found a trash bag containing shredded documents, thousands of dollars in cash, valid child passports and a “go bag” containing a USB flash drive and rubber gloves , according to court testimony last year.
During a hearing in December, attorneys for Diana Toebbe denied prosecution charges citing 2019 messages exchanged by the couple in which she contemplated fleeing the United States to avoid prosecution. catch. Instead, the defense argued that they despised President Donald Trump when it was the reason behind the couple’s migration plan.
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https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/18/maryland-woman-pleads-guilty-selling-submarine-secrets/ Woman using Pittsburgh address pleads guilty to submarine spying – CBS Pittsburgh