A current U.S. Navy nuclear engineer, alongside his wife, is looking down the barrel of a prison sentence that could max out at life in prison in the wake of being accused of selling off nuclear secretes to a currently unknown foreign entity.
“Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, of Annapolis, were arrested Saturday in Jefferson County, West Virginia, on espionage-related charges,” Fox News reported on the incident. “Federal prosecutors say they should remain in custody pending their trials as they face a potential maximum penalty of life in prison and are at ‘serious risk’ of fleeing.
Currently, the couple is being slammed with the charge of violating the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). Back in 1946, the AEA set the foundation for the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in order to promote the “utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes to the maximum extent consistent with the common defense and security and with the health and safety of the public.”
As stated by Fox News, the AEA “restricts the disclosure of information related to atomic weapons or nuclear materials.”
“Unfortunately there always will be people willing to compromise our nation’s security for personal gain. It’s treasonous, it’s rare, but such individuals are traitors and should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” stated Thomas Modly, the former acting United States Secretary of the Navy, to Fox News. “Our nuclear submarine force provides a significant military capability for the United States. It is a capability our adversaries both covet and fear. Information related to it must be protected — and for the most part, it is.”
As reported by the Baltimore Sun, a criminal complaint was unsealed this past Sunday over in the U.S. District Court in West Virginia which sets out to allege that Jonathan Toebbe “reached out to an unidentified foreign country in the spring of last year offering to sell secrets but the package was obtained by the FBI, which began communicating with him in December.”
“Jonathan Toebbe allegedly communicated with undercover agents via secure channels, received secret signals and left memory cards with sensitive information embedded in a peanut butter sandwich and a Band-Aid wrapper at prearranged locations, according to the complaint. His wife was observed assisting with the drops, the FBI says,” continued the Baltimore Sun.
Currently a teacher in Annapolis at the private Key School, Diana Toebbe has also been accused of “acting as a lookout” for her husband’s nefarious deals. She has now been issued an indefinite suspension from her role as a teacher.
“Although most spy cases don’t involve peanut butter and Band-Aids, the facts alleged follow a familiar pattern: Insider within the U.S. government approaches a foreign power to sell U.S. secrets for money, is compromised despite their best efforts at tradecraft, and — to their surprise — is subsequently arrested,” stated a former senior Justice Department official, David Laufman, to The Washington Post.
The prosecutors for this case are also trying to claim that Jonathan Toebbe sent a message to this contact that he may be forced to leave the country urgently.
“Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family,” Stated Toebbe, as reported by case documents. “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.”