SaraACarter.com| by Sara Carter Staff | September 28, 2022
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A Maryland couple has pleaded guilty for the second time in federal court on Tuesday for attempting to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign power. Jonathan Toebbe, 42, a nuclear scientist and his wife, Diana, a former humanities teacher at a private school, were first arrested and charged in October.
Their first plea deal was rejected by a judge who said their sentences were too lenient. Tuesday, the Maryland couple pleaded guilty to one felony count each of conspiracy to communicate restricted data.
“Last month, U.S. District Judge Gina Groh rejected their first plea, saying the punishment did not fit the crime. Jonathan’s attorneys had called for a sentencing range between 12 years and 17.5 years, while his wife would get three years” reports the Washington Examiner.
The new plea agreement, brought before another judge, could result in the couple facing a maximum of life in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The Washington Examiner writes of the case:
Jonathan, who worked for the U.S. Navy, used his top-level security clearance to smuggle out design secrets of Virginia-class submarines to someone he thought was working for an undisclosed foreign entity but who was in reality an undercover FBI agent.
Jonathan communicated with the agent using an encrypted email service and did document drops in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He would download the classified material he smuggled out onto SD cards, often hiding them in peanut butter sandwiches while his wife was on the lookout.
The couple was first arrested after one of these drops in Jefferson County, West Virginia. Shockingly, the Justice Department said Jonathan’s top-secret security clearance was renewed just days before he mailed the first package. He had worked for the “Nuclear Reactors” program since 2012.