Maryland couple pleads guilty to selling a foreign power nuclear secrets hidden in a sandwich: report

Maryland couple pleads guilty to selling a foreign power nuclear secrets hidden in a sandwich: report
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A Maryland couple has pleaded guilty to selling "confidential" nuclear-related secrets to a foreign country. The plans, according to a report by ABC News, were related to the propulsion capabilities of the American nuclear submarine fleet.

It was the second time that Jonathan and Diana Toebbe admitted to their crimes since their first admissions in February. ABC noted that a judge threw out the plea agreements last month after deciding the sentences called for were too low. The Toebbes each face up to life in prison and a $100,000 fine, per National Public Radio.

"The Toebbes, of Annapolis, Maryland, seemed to neighbors and co-workers to be the typical suburban couple before they were arrested last October for allegedly scheming to sell secrets about Virginia-class nuclear submarines to a foreign country, which was not identified in court papers but was Brazil, a source told ABC News," the outlet explained.

READ MORE: 'A ménage à treason': Stephen Colbert blasts Trump for storing 'top-secret' nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago

"At the time of his plea, Toebbe conceded he sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh that contained a sample of restricted data and instructions for establishing a relationship to buy additional restricted data," ABC revealed. "Toebbe said he began corresponding with someone he thought was a representative of the foreign government who was really an undercover FBI agent."

Toebbe, a former nuclear engineer with the United States Navy, was paid a $10,000 "good faith payment" via cryptocurrency by the double agent, whom Toebbe provided with a "blue 16GB SanDisk SD" hidden inside of a peanut butter sandwich. His wife, meanwhile, acted as a ''lookout" while he made the designated "dead drops" somewhere in rural West Virginia.

Toebbe also sent a letter to the Brazilian Intelligence Agency in which he "stated a desire to sell documents containing U.S. Navy information marked CONFIDENTIAL that included printouts, digital media files containing technical details, operations manuals, and performance reports," the criminal complaint alleges. "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."

"His theft 'irreparably compromised' a critical component of national defense, Judge Gina Groh said in August when she rejected the initial plea agreements," ABC News added. "At the hearing, Groh read an impact statement submitted by the Navy that said, in part, the 'breadth and depth of Mr. Toebbe's betrayal for personal gain is extraordinary.'"

READ MORE: Former intelligence officials warn Mar-a-Lago has become a 'magnet for foreign spies'

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