Engineer Pleaded Guilty in Spy Case. Now, His Wife's Plea

Diana Toebbe enters guilty plea days after Jonathan Toebbe in plot to sell sub secrets
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 19, 2022 5:30 AM CST
Wife in Submarine Spy Case Pleads Guilty
These booking photos released Oct. 9, 2021, show Jonathan Toebbe, right, and his wife, Diana Toebbe.   (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP, File)

A Maryland woman pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a plot with her husband to sell submarine secrets to a foreign country. Diana Toebbe entered the plea in federal court in Martinsburg to one count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data. Prosecutors said they'd seek a prison term of up to three years at sentencing, per the AP. Her husband, Jonathan, a Navy nuclear engineer, pleaded guilty Monday to passing information about American nuclear-powered warships to someone he thought was a representative of a foreign government but who was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Diana Toebbe was charged with acting as a lookout at several prearranged "dead-drop" locations at which memory cards containing the secret information were left behind. At the time of her arrest, Diana Toebbe was teaching at a private school in Maryland. In pleading guilty to the same charge as his wife, Jonathan Toebbe, 43, faces a potential punishment of between roughly 12 and 17 years in prison, a sentencing range agreed to by lawyers. Prosecutors said he abused his access to top-secret government information and repeatedly sold details about the design elements and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarines.

Jonathan Toebbe acknowledged during his plea hearing that he conspired with his wife to pass classified information to a foreign government in exchange for money with the intent to "injure the United States." The memory cards were devices concealed in objects such as a chewing gum wrapper and a peanut butter sandwich. The Annapolis, Md., couple was arrested on Oct. 9 after he placed a memory card at a dead-drop location in Jefferson County, W. Va. The country to which Jonathan Toebbe was looking to sell the information hasn't been identified in court documents and wasn't disclosed in court during his wife's plea hearing Friday.

(More guilty plea stories.)

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