Support our mission
These booking photos released Oct. 9, 2021, by the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority show Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe.

These booking photos released Oct. 9, 2021, by the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority show Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana Toebbe. (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority)

(Tribune News Service) — The Annapolis, Md., woman accused of serving as a lookout for her husband, a Navy nuclear engineer, as he engaged in a scheme to sell military secrets to foreign governments pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in federal court on Friday.

Diana Toebbe, 46, changed her plea four days after her husband, Jonathan Toebbe, pleaded guilty, admitting he shared data and documents with details about nuclear submarines to who he thought were representatives of another country but were really undercover FBI agents.

The couple was arrested in October on espionage charges.

In court Friday, Toebbe said she “knowingly and voluntarily” joined the conspiracy to “communicate restricted data,” and that she committed overt acts to further it, including acting as a lookout. She said after she became aware he was trying to sell data, she acted as a lookout for three drops.

Her guilty plea was for the first count in the original indictment, the conspiracy to communicate restricted data.

Toebbe’s plea agreement, according to attorneys in Friday’s court hearing, includes a sentence of up to three years in prison.

The former teacher had previously maintained her innocence, with her attorney arguing in December she should be released from custody because she wasn’t a flight risk and that the FBI didn’t have evidence to prove she knowingly participated in the scheme to sell secrets.

A December court filing quoted from a letter Jonathan Toebbe wrote to his father-in-law that said he had “high hopes” she would “ultimately be exonerated.”

But her husband told a federal judge in West Virginia on Monday that he conspired with her, and his plea agreement named her as an accomplice.

According to an encrypted message from Jonathan Toebbe, cited in court documents, there was only one other person who knew about the “special relationship” he had with what he thought was a foreign government. His plea said that person was Diana.

He is expected to face a sentence between 12½ and 17½ years in prison, per an agreement between the government and his attorney.

U.S. authorities say Jonathan Toebbe, who worked on classified nuclear projects and held a top-secret security clearance since 2012, tried to share design information about sophisticated submarines to someone he believed was an agent of a foreign government. The country has not been identified.

He’s accused of reaching out to the undisclosed foreign country in spring of 2020 with an offer to sell information, and the country notified the FBI in December of that year, prompting an undercover operation.

FBI agents spoke with him for more than a year that included four “dead drops” in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. There, he dropped SD cards hidden in a sandwich, bubblegum package and Band-Aid wrapper.

Diana, meanwhile, is accused of serving as a lookout during three exchanges. They received payments through cryptocurrency.

The Baltimore Sun previously reported the FBI found shredded documents, their children’s passports and $11,300 in cash during a search of their home, along with a “go-bag” containing a computer, storage drive and gloves.

Prosecutors previously said $100,000 the FBI paid to Toebbe and 5,000 pages of classified documents he claimed to have hadn’t been located. Part of Jonathan Toebbe’s plea agreement was to help federal agents find the cryptocurrency and recover outstanding classified documents.

©2022 Baltimore Sun.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up