Navy engineer and his wife are being investigated for allegedly attempting to sell nuclear submarine secrets.
This is insane!
The feds arrested a rogue Navy engineer for allegedly attempting to pass along US nuclear secrets – concealed within half a peanut-butter sandwich.
According to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Sunday, the 42-year-old Maryland suspect found himself in a pickle when it was revealed that the foreign operative he believed he was dealing with was actually an FBI agent.
The FBI allege that Jonathan Toebbe of Annapolis concealed information about the country's Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines on a blue, plastic-coated SD memory card, which he then placed between two slabs of peanut butter-slathered bread.
"The half sandwich was contained within a plastic bag," according to the complaint.
At other times, Toebbe allegedly used a Band-Aid wrapper and a bag of chewing gum to conceal SD cards.
He would drop off materials at various sites, authorities said, with his wife, Diana, a 45-year-old teacher, acting as his "lookout."
Toebbe allegedly wrote to his putative foreign contact at one point, "One day, when it is safe, perhaps two old friends will chance to meet in a cafe, have a bottle of wine, and laugh over stories of their shared escapades."
He and his wife were arrested Saturday in Jefferson County, West Virginia, the Justice Department said. The FBI accused them of violating the Atomic Energy Act.
Authorities said the feds paid Toebbe $100,000 in the cryptocurrency Monero to fool him into believing they were a foreign agency paying for the confidential information.
The feds' espionage probe began in December 2020, when an FBI official received a box addressed to an undisclosed foreign country that had reportedly been mailed by Toebbe.
The package contained Navy documents and instructions on how to use "encrypted communications" — all the while professing the sender's wish to initiate a "covert connection," according to the docs.
"Would you kindly convey this correspondence to your military intelligence agency? I believe this knowledge will be extremely beneficial to your country. According to the lawsuit, a message inside the package stated, "This is not a fake."
After validating the legitimacy of the secret material, FBI operatives masquerading as foreign spies began communicating with Toebbe via e-mail, according to the lawsuit.
Toebbe allegedly stated in March, following many e-mail conversations, that he would deliver the records in exchange for cryptocurrency payments.
According to the FBI, all of the memory cards contained knowledge on the designs of Virginia-class nuclear submarines.
The couple was apprehended when they arrived at a West Virginia "death drop" location, authorities claimed.
On Tuesday, the pair is scheduled to appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Who represents the husband and wife is unknown.