Navy Nuclear Engineer Charged With Trying to Pass Secrets

In this Friday, July 30, 2004 file photo, the U.S.S. Virginia returns to the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton Conn., after its first sea trials. (AP Photo/Jack Sauer, File)

A Navy nuclear engineer with access to military secrets has been charged with trying to pass information about the design of American nuclear-powered submarines to someone he thought was a representative of a foreign government but who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, the Justice Department said Sunday.

In a criminal complaint detailing espionage-related charges against Jonathan Toebbe, the government said he sold information for nearly the past year to a contact he believed represented a foreign power. That country was not named in the court documents.

Toebbe, 42, was arrested in West Virginia on Saturday along with his 45-year-old wife, Diana, after he had placed a removable memory card at a prearranged “dead drop” in Jefferson County, according to the department.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether either Toebbe had a lawyer.

Prosecutors say the scheme began in April 2020 when Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government containing a sample of U.S. secrets he could provide, along with instructions for how to continue the furtive relationship. He then began communicating with someone who was actually an undercover agent and agreed to sell information for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency, according to the complaint, which alleges violations of the Atomic Energy Act.

The Toebbes are expected to have their initial court appearances Tuesday in Martinsburg, West Virginia.