Navy engineer arrested for selling submarine secrets hidden in peanut butter sandwich

midian182

Posts: 7,293   +65
Staff member
What just happened? A navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with trying to sell submarine technology secrets to another country in exchange for cryptocurrency. The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, of Annapolis, Maryland, after the former tried to sell information on the nuclear propulsion system of Virginia-class attack submarines to what he thought was a representative of a foreign government, but was actually an undercover FBI agent.

A criminal complaint by the Department of Justice (DoJ) states that 42-year-old Toebbe worked on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. His high-level national security clearance gave him access to information that rival nations would doubtlessly pay handsomely for.

According to the complaint, on April 1, 2020, Jonathan sent a package to an unnamed foreign government stating he was interested is selling submarine operations manuals, performance reports and other sensitive information in return for $100,000 in cryptocurrency. "I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax," he wrote.

The FBI office in the foreign country received the package, which had a return address of Pittsburgh. It led to an FBI agent posing as the foreign representative communicating with Toebbe via Proton Mail over the course of several months. The federal agent sent Toebbe $10,000 worth of Monero in June as a sign of good faith and trust. A week later, Toebbe and his 45-year-old wife, Diana Toebbe, agreed to travel to a West Virginia drop site to exchange the classified data.

With his wife acting as a lookout, Toebbe made the drop at the agreed location. He left half a peanut butter sandwich that contained a blue SD card wrapped in plastic. The device contained, among other things, design elements and performance characteristics of Virginia-class submarine reactors. Toebbe had also left a message that read: "I hope your experts are very happy with the sample provided and I understand the importance of a small exchange to grow our trust."

The FBI paid Toebbe $20,000 for the transaction. Several more exchanges took place over the following months, including one in which he was given $70,000 after leaving an SD card in a chewing gum packet.

The couple was arrested on October 9 and will appear in a Martinsburg, West Virginia federal court on October 12. They face charges of conspiracy to communicate restricted data and communicating restricted data as violations of the Atomic Energy Act.

Image credit: @joefoodie

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VitalyT

Posts: 6,032   +6,400
I hope your experts are very happy with the sample provided...
Oh they were indeed, especially with the sandwich, ROFL. They probably finished it before looking at the data.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,364   +7,166
If he had only hidden the SD card in a SUBway instead then he wouldn't have been caught. The most stealthy sandwich approved by the navy.

Naaaaa ..... have to be a Jersey Mikes .... they got a LOT more stuff on them for it to get lost in! LOL
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,755   +5,195
Smart of the feds to make sure these traitors are being tried in a state that will actually punish them for betraying their country. (Yes, I realize its a federal court but the judges are typically from the region and local attitudes usually factor in.)
I think your comments are interesting given that it sounds like the couple obviously had the intent. They actively solicited buyers of the classified material and it may be hard for them to claim that they were entrapped. Unless the FBI and/or NCIS royally screwed up, it does not sound like it will be difficult for prosecutors to get a conviction under the law. And the law is what judges are obligated to follow no matter the state in which they are tried.
 

brucek

Posts: 942   +1,363
Smart of the feds to make sure these traitors are being tried in a state that will actually punish them for betraying their country. (Yes, I realize its a federal court but the judges are typically from the region and local attitudes usually factor in.)
Given the facts in this case that would be all 50 states and if you seriously think otherwise you're letting some form of partisan infotainment overly dilute your actual news.
 

ypsylon

Posts: 420   +357
Next time use BigMac. It's bigger, you can hide more stuff in it. /s

What a plonker. I hope he won't see again natural light and will rot in prison. Or even better let him walk the plank as it should be, nature will do the rest. It's the Navy way.

Nuclear engineer is not exactly janitor level of pay. People out of greed will do anything. Anything, even start thermonuclear war.

 

Robby-san

Posts: 11   +6
Apparently, there was no stock picture of a peanut butter sandwich. Could no one have taken a picture of one for the article?
 

Markoni35

Posts: 1,318   +534
God you're all full of prejudices. He wasn't selling secrets, he was proving that World of Warships was wrong.