Maryland couple sentenced to prison for selling secrets data about nuclear-powered warships

A former nuclear engineer and his wife were sentenced Wednesday for conspiring to communicate restricted data concerning nuclear-powered warships.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that a Maryland couple was sentenced for conspiring to transmit restricted data regarding the design, manufacture and use of nuclear powered warships.

Jonathan Toebbe (44), of Annapolis was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment. His wife Diana, 46, was sentenced for more than 21 years.

In August 2022, the couple pleaded guilty.

These booking photos, released by West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority on Oct. 9, 2021, show Jonathan Toebbe and Diana Toebbe. (West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority via AP).

Jonathan Toebbe worked at the Department of the Navy before his arrest. He was a nuclear engineer, and was assigned to Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Toebbe was granted active national security clearance which allowed him to access restricted data regarding the design, manufacture or use of atomic weapons.

According to court documents, Toebbe started a lengthy correspondence with someone he believed was from a foreign country but was in fact an undercover FBI agent. This correspondence resulted in an agreement to sell restricted data in exchange for thousands in cryptocurrency.


According to the DOJ, Restricted Data refers to the design, manufacture or use of atomic weapons, or the production or modification of Special Nuclear Material (SNM).

Toebbe received $10,000 in cryptocurrency on June 8, 2021 from the undercover agent as a payment of good faith. Toebbe provided an SC card to the undercover agent later that month containing military-sensitive design elements related to submarine nuclear reactors at a prearranged location.

Toebbe was sent $20,000 in cryptocurrency by the undercover agent. Toebbe sent the undercover agent an email with a decryption code for the SD card. The SD card contained Restricted Data that was related to submarine nuclear reactors. Toebbe did another “deaddrop” of the SD card in Eastern Virginia the next month.


The FBI was able to decrypt the card after making a payment of $70,000 to Jonathan Toebbe in cryptocurrency. It also contained Restricted Data relating to submarine nuclear reactors. Toebbe was arrested with his wife, on October 9, 2021. He had placed another SD card at an “dead drop” in West Virginia.

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