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U.S. Navy engineer, wife charged with selling submarine secrets

At one point, the nuclear engineer hid a digital memory card containing documents about submarine nuclear reactors in half a peanut butter sandwich at a 'dead drop' location in West Virginia

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A U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with selling secret information about nuclear submarines to an undercover FBI agent who posed as an operative for a foreign country, the Justice Department said on Sunday.

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Jonathan Toebbe and his wife, Diana, were arrested on Saturday in West Virginia and charged with violating the Atomic Energy Act, the Justice Department said in a statement. They are scheduled to appear in a West Virginia federal court on Tuesday.

Toebbe, 42, a Navy nuclear engineer with top secret security clearance, sent a package of restricted data to an unidentified country in 2020 and later began selling secrets for tens of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign official, the Justice Department said.

At one point, Toebbe hid a digital memory card containing documents about submarine nuclear reactors in half a peanut butter sandwich at a “dead drop” location in West Virginia, while his wife acted as lookout, the Justice Department said.

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The memory card contained “militarily sensitive design elements, operating parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors,” according to a federal court affidavit.

Another memory card was concealed in a chewing gum package, the Justice Department said.

Toebbe received separate cryptocurrency payments totalling $100,000, according to the Justice Department.

Officials said Toebbe and his wife, who are from Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested after placing yet another memory card at a drop site in West Virginia. They were charged with conspiracy and “communication of restricted data,” according to a criminal complaint.

No attorney for the Toebbes was listed in either the court documents or the Justice Department statement.

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