‘Spy’ couple left child at home to allegedly pass nuclear secrets



The husband and wife accused of trying to sell US nuclear secrets to officials from a foreign country left their 11-year-old child at home alone for hours while passing information at a “dead drop” — and kept a “go bag” in their bedroom in case they had to flee the country, prosecutors said in a court hearing Wednesday.

The details about the alleged actions of Jonathan and Diana Toebbe emerged as an FBI agent testified in a West Virginia federal court about how law enforcement tracked down the couple and arrested them earlier this month.

Both Jonathan and Diana pleaded not guilty Wednesday to espionage charges. The FBI agent testified Wednesday as part of a detention hearing for a judge to decide if Diana should be released pending trial.

FBI Special Agent Peter Olinits testified that Jonathan “serviced” dead drops with US nuclear secrets and other information in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania a total of four times beginning in June 2021.

Diana accompanied him to three of the drops, where Jonathan left computer cards hidden in items such as a peanut butter sandwich and a packet of gum, Olinits said.

The couple parked more than a mile away from the agreed upon drop locations to case the area and see if they’d been tailed by law enforcement during the so-called “drops,” Olinitis said.

They also dressed as hikers to blend in with other people on the rural trails where Jonathan allegedly passed the information — and each time she was there, Diana allegedly acted as a lookout while he delivered the packages.

Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were arrested and charged with passing nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign government.
Jonathan and Diana Toebbe allegedly surveyed through trails and watched for police while marking their drop locations.

The one occasion Diana did not go along for the trip, she had recently had surgery on her ankle and would not have been able to easily navigate the rough terrain of the Eastern Virginia trail where Jonathan left information later recovered by FBI agents.

On their final trip on Oct. 9, the couple left their 11-year-old child at home alone while they traveled about an hour and a half away to West Virginia to pass information Jonathan had stolen while working for the Navy.

In an attempt to thwart law enforcement who may have been on their tail, Jonathan left his cellphone at home and Diana turned her phone on “airplane mode” when they neared the location, prosecutors alleged.

“They would not have been able to contact their parents,” Olinits said of the left-behind child.

After they were arrested that day, FBI agents searched their Annapolis home and recovered a “go bag” from their bedroom that had a Mac computer, latex gloves and a USB drive inside.

Agents also recovered a trash bag full of shredded documents in the laundry room of the house and $11,300 in cash stashed in a box, according to Olinits.

Diana’s defense attorney, Edward MacMahon Jr., argued the feds had no evidence tying her to her husband’s theft of government secrets or anything to suggest she knew he was trying to pass information to foreign officials.

Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana were arrested and charged with passing nuclear submarine secrets to a foreign government.
Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana left their 11-year-old child at home during their last trip to drop nuclear intel.

Judge Robert Trumble said he would order a written ruling at a later time on whether or not Diana should be granted bond pending trial.

Jonathan waived his right to a detention hearing and will be detained pending trial.


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