Diana Toebbe, the wife of a US Navy nuclear engineer who earlier this week pleaded guilty in a scheme to sell US naval secrets to a foreign country, pleaded guilty Friday in a federal courtroom in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Toebbe, 46, will face up to three years in prison as part of the plea agreement. Toebbe pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data, which typically carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
FBI agents were monitoring and surveilling the Toebbes for months after an undisclosed foreign government informed the FBI that Jonathan Toebbe had sent them a package offering to sell nuclear secrets, according to the criminal complaint. They were eventually arrested on October 9 at what was to be a fourth dead-drop location.
According to the plea agreement, Toebbe acted as a lookout for her husband during three “dead drops” — two in West Virginia and one in Pennsylvania — where they delivered SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines to undercover federal agents.
The couple allegedly went to great lengths to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations over the course of several months, tucking an SD card into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich in one instance, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper, according to prosecutors.
Federal Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble accepted Toebbe’s guilty plea, days after accepting her husband’s.
Another judge will sentence her at a later date. That judge will have the option to impose a different sentence than agreed upon by Toebbe and prosecutors. She will remain in federal custody until her sentencing date.
Toebbe had repeatedly tried to be released on bond, claiming until now that she did not know about her husband’s plans even though she accompanied him to the dead drops.
As part of Toebbe’s plea agreement, she has agreed to cooperate with investigators, including sitting for a polygraph exam if requested, allowing them access to her electronic devices and accounts, and assisting them in retrieving the $100,000 in Monero cryptocurrency stemming from this case.
Toebbe also faces a $100,00 fine and up to five years of supervised release. She received limited immunity in exchange for her plea.