- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2022

A U.S. Navy nuclear engineer from Annapolis on Monday pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he attempted to sell information about nuclear-powered submarines to a foreign country.

The plea was part of an agreement between Jonathan Toebbe’s defense team and federal prosecutors with the Department of Justice. He made the pleas in a U.S. magistrate courtroom in Martinsburg, W.V.

Mr. Toebbe, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data and faces up to life in prison and a $100,000 fine during his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been set. The case attracted widespread attention after the shock arrest of Mr. Toebbe and his wife, who allegedly assisted in his abortive effort to sell U.S. military secrets for money.

During the hour-long hearing, federal Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble repeatedly asked if the defendant — a nuclear engineer who worked on U.S. Navy submarine reactors — understood the plea agreement made by federal prosecutors and wasn’t pressured to accept it.

“Yes,” Mr. Toebbe replied.

For nearly a year, the Navy engineer, aided by his wife who also faces charges in the case, sold confidential data about the design of nuclear-powered submarines to someone he thought worked for a foreign power, identified in court documents only as “Country 1.”

But Mr. Toebbe‘s contact was actually an FBI agent.

The Annapolis resident and his wife were eventually arrested after making a series of dead drops of restricted information at spots in West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. They were paid about $100,000 in cryptocurrency. 

As part of the plea deal, Mr. Toebbe must help the government recover those funds.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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