MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Maryland couple arrested in West Virginia this month for allegedly trying to pass nuclear secrets to a foreign government is heading to trial.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, of Annapolis, Md., appeared in Martinsburg federal court Wednesday where they each pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to communicate restrictive data and communication of restrictive data.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble arraigned the Toebbes and scheduled their trial for Dec. 14 at 9 a.m.
The couple was arrested Oct. 9 in Jefferson County.
Jonathan Toebbe, 42, was on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 2012-2017, according to investigators.
For almost a year, the Toebbes allegedly sold information regarding the design of nuclear powered warships to a person they believed was a representative of a foreign power. The contact was actually an FBI agent.
Authorities said when Jonathan Toebbe dropped off a computer memory card, it was placed inside a peanut butter sandwich containing a $20,000 crypto payment.
Diana Toebbe, 45, allegedly served as a “lookout.”
During Diana Toebbe’s detention hearing Wednesday, prosecutors presented photos and video of her and husband Jonathan at a “dead drop” location where they say the couple left classified information about the U.S. nuclear submarine program.
An FBI agent took the witness stand and said the couple posed as tourists to avoid detection, but FBI surveillance cameras in the area were rolling.
The agent testified that Diana Toebbe had a backpack, a camera and was taking pictures.
“When Jonathan clearly finished the dead drop, Diana gave a distinctive head nod as if they had to get out of the area,” the agent said.
The agent went on to testify that Jonathan Toebbe told the foreign country, “If you do not contact me by Dec. 31, 2020, I will conclude you are uninterested and will approach other possible buyers.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing Wednesday. Diana Toebbe’s attorney argued there was no presented evidence showing Diana Toebbe knew of her husband’s intentions. Trumble did not make a ruling.
The couple remains in federal custody and faces life in prison, if convicted.