A U.S. Navy engineer and his wife have been jailed for selling secrets about nuclear submarines to undercover FBI agents posing as representatives of foreign governments.
U.S. District Judge Gina Gros sentenced Jonathan Toebbe to more than 19 years and his wife Diana Toebbe to nearly 22 years in prison, citing the couple’s “enormous danger” to national security .
The Annapolis, Maryland couple argue that their mental health issues and alcoholism make them anxious about the US political climate, which is why they sold secrets in exchange for $100,000 (£88,000) in crypto currency.
Sentenced in Charleston, West VirginiaJudge Gros said on Wednesday that their story “reads like a crime novel or a screenplay” and that Jonathan Tobey’s “action and greedy self-serving intentions put servicemen at sea, and every Every citizen is vulnerable and at risk of harm from adversaries.”
Diana Toby has admitted to being her husband’s watchdog and has been given a heavier sentence for trying to send her husband two letters from prison.
Her sentence was increased from just three years to more than two decades.
The letters, read out in court, were intercepted before they were delivered.
‘from the movie’
In one, Mrs Toebbe told her husband to flush down the toilet after reading, and she encouraged him to lie about her involvement in the scheme, saying she “knows nothing about it”.
The judge said she had no real remorse and was not responsible for her actions.
“It’s an extraordinary story, right outside of the movie,” Judge Gros said.
Ahead of sentencing, Jonathan Toby described his struggles with stress and alcohol.
“I believe my family is under dire threat and democracy itself is crumbling,” he said.
The 44-year-old claimed the belief overwhelmed him and made him feel he needed to “take urgent action to try and save them from serious harm”.
Prosecutors said Mr. Torbay abused his access to top-secret government information and repeatedly sold details about the design and performance of Virginia-class submarines to people he believed were representatives of foreign governments but were in fact undercover FBI agents.
Peanut Butter Sandwich “Dead Drop”
Ms. Toebbe, 46, who was teaching at a private school in Maryland when the couple were arrested last October, admitted she had spied on several pre-arranged “dead spots” that left messages containing secret information. storage card.
Memory cards were hidden in items such as gum wrappers and peanut butter sandwiches.
None of the information has been classified as top secret or classified, according to previous testimony, falling into the third category considered classified.
At a hearing in December, Barry Baker, Diana Toby’s attorney, said the couple planned to flee the United States because of their contempt for then-President Donald Trump.
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According to previous testimony, during a search of the couple’s home, FBI agents found a garbage bag containing shredded documents, thousands of dollars in cash, valid children’s passports and a bag containing a USB flash drive and A “carry bag” for latex gloves.
The FBI said the program began in April 2020, when Jonathan Torbay sent a package of Navy documents to foreign governments and expressed interest in selling operations manuals, performance reports and other sensitive information.
The package was obtained by the FBI in December 2020 through its legal attaché’s office in an unspecified foreign country, sparking a months-long undercover operation.
Toebbe was contacted by an FBI agent posing as a representative of a foreign government and eventually paid in cryptocurrency for the information he provided.
Judge Gros said about $54,000 (£47,000) in cryptocurrency had been recovered. She fined each defendant around $50,000 (£44,000).