FBI Trapped Nuclear Engineer who was Selling Restricted Information

FBI Trapped Nuclear Engineer who was Selling Restricted Information
FBI Trapped Nuclear Engineer who was Selling Restricted Information

U.S. nuclear submarine engineer and his wife are arrested in West Virginia with espionage-related charges. The FBI set up a trap. According to the U.S. Department of Justice announcement, they acted with the aim of passing confidential information to a foreign government hidden in peanut butter sandwiches after being paid $70,000 in crypto.


Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, Nuclear Engineer and Spouse are arrested in Jefferson County by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on Saturday, Oct. 9. For almost a year, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, aided by his wife, Diana, 45, sold information known as Restricted Data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships to a person they believed was a representative of a foreign country. In actuality, that person was an undercover FBI agent. The Toebbes have been charged in a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Atomic Energy Act. They will have their initial appearances on Tuesday, Oct. 12, in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

“The complaint charges a plot to transmit information relating to the design of nuclear submarines to a foreign nation. Jonathan Toebbe is an employee of the Department of the Navy. He served as a nuclear engineer for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, better known as the Naval Reactors. He had an active national security clearance from the United States Department of Defence, which allowed him access to Restricted Data. According to FBI claims, Toebbe could have obtained the classified information on US nuclear submarines from Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

FBI Trapped Nuclear Engineer who was Selling Restricted Information

Toebbe worked with and had access to information concerning naval nuclear propulsion, including military sensitive design elements, operating parameters, and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear-powered warships.

The complaint affidavit alleges that on Apr. 1, 2020, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, containing a sample of Restricted Data and instructions for establishing a covert relationship to purchase additional Restricted Data. The country name is kept confidential.

According to the affidavit, Toebbe then began communicating via encrypted email with someone he mistook for a foreign government person. In reality, the individual was an undercover FBI agent. Jonathan Toebbe maintained this conversation for several months, which resulted in an agreement to sell Restricted Data for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

On Jun. 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan Toebbe as a “good faith” payment. Shortly afterwards, on Jun. 26, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe travelled to a location in West Virginia. With Diana Toebbe acting as a lookout, Jonathan Toebbe placed an S.D. card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-arranged “dead drop” location. After retrieving the S.D. card, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment. In return, Jonathan Toebbe emailed the undercover agent a decryption key for the SD Card. A review of the S.D. card revealed that it contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. On Aug. 28, Jonathan Toebbe made another “dead drop” of an S.D. card in eastern Virginia, this time concealing the card in a chewing gum package. After making a payment to Toebbe of $70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card. It, too, contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. The FBI arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe on Oct. 9, after placing yet another S.D. card at a pre-arranged “dead drop” at the second location in West Virginia.


FBI Trapped Nuclear Engineer who was Selling Restricted Information