MARTINSBURG, W.Va. The wife of a Navy nuclear engineer pleaded guilty on Friday to taking part in a conspiracy to sell submarine secrets to foreign countries that led to a case of espionage that combined engineering and politics with criminal investigations. of a suburban family.
Four days after her husband, Jonathan Toebbe, pleaded guilty in the case by agreement with the government, Diana Toebbe, a high school teacher in Annapolis, Md., admitted her part in the case. plan to sell nuclear reactor secrets Her husband has been from the Navy, and will face a sentence of no more than three years, under the terms of her agreement with the government. Her plea was made during a hearing in federal court in Martinsburg.
In April 2020, the couple wrote to an undisclosed foreign government, which forwarded the letter to FBI Investigators who then orchestrated a series of murders to trap Ms. Toebbe and Mr. Toebbe; he faces 12 to 17 and a half years in prison on his terms.
During Friday’s trial, prosecutors outlined how Ms. Toebbe served as a stalker while her husband sent information into a death flyer set up by the FBI. Ms. Toebbe said she was “intentionally and voluntarily engaged in a conspiracy with my husband, Jonathan Toebbe,” to try to sell government secrets to foreign countries.
Miss Toebbe appeared in court with her short gray hair tied up in a neat bun and wearing an orange prison uniform. She kept a white surgical mask during the hearing. Chained at her wrists and ankles, Miss Toebbe remained seated throughout the proceedings, responding sharply to the judge’s questions. Her voice softened as she read the statement acknowledging how much she had helped her husband.
While US Attorney Jarod J. Douglas read out the terms of her plea agreement, Ms. Toebbe appeared to close her eyes or look down for an extended period of time, prompting the attorney to tap her shoulder. She nodded at him in response.
Toebbe’s husband and child were not present at the hearing and it is unlikely any family members were present to hear the confession.
The pair’s plea agreements will save the government from a trial that could risk exposing a foreign country to the conspiracy – something officials have worked hard to keep secret. It may also have risked making public some of the documents the couple intended to give to foreign governments.
Mr. Toebbe worked in the Washington Navy Yard, developing nuclear reactors for US submarines. While he has access to some of the nation’s most highly protected secrets, the exact nature of the material he’s attempting to sell in exchange for a cryptocurrency has yet to be revealed by the government. .
Former students and colleagues at Annapolis’s elite Key School describe Toebbe’s growing frustration with American politics and former President Donald J. Trump.
She also complaining about her salary at school. Her husband earned a good government salary as a highly educated nuclear engineer, $153,737 a year. Ms. Toebbe has an even higher education, holding a Ph. from Emory University, but she earns less than some of her male colleagues, a source of friction she will expose in front of her classes, according to former students.
And, people briefed on the investigation said, they think the couple’s motivations are financial.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ms. Toebbe could face large fines and restitution to the government, although the government will not be able to take her home.
During an earlier trial into her detention, authorities read from encrypted text messages between the couple that prosecutors said indicated Toebbe’s alienation from the United States. The defense objected to that Mrs. Toebbe’s disappointment with Mr. Trump hardly treason and in fact something that many Americans shared.
Toebbes had two school-age children who, until being caught by their parents, attended the school their mother taught.
Several text messages revealed in court and discussions with those briefed on the case suggest Ms Toebbe was an equal partner in the conspiracy or the one who pushed the conspiracy forward.
But during Friday’s trial, Toebbe only admitted participating in a scheme to try to sell the secret in the summer of 2021, when her husband was arranging with an undercover FBI agent to send documents in multiple locations. Drop different corpses. Prosecutors had video evidence of Ms. Toebbe serving as surveillance as Mr. Toebbe placed a memory card inside a peanut butter sandwich and left it for the undercover agent.
From the very beginning of the court proceedings, Mr Toebbe determined himself to be responsible as much as possible – perhaps in an attempt to reduce the amount of time his wife would spend in prison. In government-recorded prison phone calls, Mr Toebbe told relatives his wife was innocent. And in his plea agreement, Mr. Toebbe said it was he who wrote the letter sent abroad and communicated with the undercover FBI agent.
While he hinted at her into the conspiracy, all he acknowledged was that she served as a stalker, which some outside observers say is the bare minimum, since the FBI already has video of this couple about the deaths they erected.
From the government’s point of view, since Mr Toebbe organized security checks and stole documents from the Navy, it was he who was more guilty.
While all proceedings in the case, including Friday’s, have been overseen by Judge Robert W. Trumble, the final sentencing against Ms. Toebbe will be carried out by Gina M. Groh, chief justice. of the school district.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/us/politics/submarine-spy-guilty-plea.html Submarine spy case: Navy engineer’s wife apologizes