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U.S. Couple Get Long Prison Terms For Trying to Sell Navy Secrets

A U.S. navy engineer and his wife were given long prison sentences in a plot to sell secrets about nuclear submarines to a person they thought was a representative of a foreign government, with a judge citing the “great danger” they posed to national security, according to the Associated Press. U.S. district judge Gina Groh sentenced Jonathan Toebbe to more than 19 years and his wife, Diana Toebbe, to nearly 22 years. In August, the judge rejected plea agreements that had called for reduced sentences. The Annapolis, Md., couple and their attorneys described the defendants’ struggles with mental health issues and alcohol and said they were anxious about the political climate when they sold secrets in exchange for $100,000 in cryptocurrency. Groh said their story “reads like a crime novel or a movie script” and that Jonathan Toebbe’s “actions and greedy self-serving intentions placed military service members at sea and every citizen of this country in a vulnerable position and at risk of harm from adversaries”. Diana Toebbe, who admitted acting as a lookout for her husband, received an enhanced sentence after the judge disclosed that Toebbe had tried to send her husband two letters from jail in an effort to convince him to lie about her involvement.

Jonathan Toebbe, 44, described his battles with stress in taking on additional duties and issues with alcohol. He said he experienced warning signs of a nervous breakdown that he failed to recognize. He said, “I believed that my family was in dire threat, that democracy itself was under collapse.” That belief overwhelmed him, he said, and led him to believe he had to take “precipitous action to try to save them from grave harm.” Diana Toebbe, 46, who was teaching at a private school in Maryland when the couple was arrested last October, admitted she acted as a lookout at prearranged “dead drop” locations, where memory cards containing the secret information were left behind. The memory cards were concealed in objects, including a chewing gum wrapper and a peanut butter sandwich. The couple was arrested after Jonathan Toebbe placed a card in Jefferson County, W.Va.. None of the information was classified as top secret or secret, falling into a category considered confidential.


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