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New Guilty Pleas By MD Couple in Nuclear Warship Secrets Case

A U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife entered new guilty pleas Tuesday in a case involving an alleged plot to sell secrets about nuclear-powered warships, a month after a judge rejected their previous plea agreements that had called for specific sentencing guidelines. Jonathan and Diana Toebbe of Annapolis, Md., pleaded guilty in federal court in Martinsburg, W. Va., to one felony count each of conspiracy to communicate restricted data , the Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge Gina Groh last month turned down the couple’s initial pleas to the same charges, saying the sentencing options were “strikingly deficient,” considering the seriousness of the case.

The couple withdrew their initial guilty pleas and Groh a set trial for January. The previous sentencing range agreed to by lawyers for Jonathan Toebbe had called for a potential punishment between roughly 12 years and 17 years in prison. Prosecutors said such a sentence would be one of the most significant imposed in modern times under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Prosecutors also sought three years for Diana Toebbe.


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