Like the plot for a new action film starring some liberal A-list celeb, a U.S. Navy nuclear engineer and his wife are facing espionage charges when they were caught trying to sell nuclear submarine secrets to foreign powers. While selling secretive data to any supposed enemy of the United States are some serious charges, the story gets even stranger as the couple thought the best way to exchange the secrets was through a peanut butter sandwich.
On Saturday, both Jonathan Toebbe, 42, and his wife, Diana, 45, were arrested in West Virginia for their crimes. According to the justice department, the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Services were on hand to make the arrest. They added the couple allegedly, “sold information known as Restricted Data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships to a person they believed was a representative of a foreign power.”
The investigation into the couple’s international dealing started when an undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Jonathan Toebbe as a sign of good faith. After the payment was received, Jonathan arranged a drop location with Diana being the lookout. It was at this point that a peanut butter sandwich was presented, inside was a neatly wrapped SD card, which again contained secrets pertaining to U.S. submarine nuclear reactors.
Even with the SD card in hand, investigators needed a decryption key to gain access. This required sending Jonathan another $70,000 in crypto. When the payment was received, Jonathan not only sent the password but included a way to get in contact with him for future purchases. “I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.”
Being charged under the Atomic Energy Act, the Department of Justice added, “After making a payment to Toebbe of $70,000 in cryptocurrency, the FBI received a decryption key for the card. It, too, contained Restricted Data related to submarine nuclear reactors. The FBI arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe on Oct. 9, after he placed yet another SD card at a pre-arranged “dead drop” at a second location in West Virginia.”