WASHINGTON—The FBI recovered a trash container of shredded documents, thousands of dollars successful cash, latex gloves and a “go-bag” erstwhile they searched the location of a Maryland couple accused of trying to merchantability accusation astir nuclear-powered warships to a overseas country, an cause testified Wednesday.
Jonathan Toebbe, a Navy atomic engineer, and his wife, Diana, were arrested successful West Virginia this period connected espionage charges. Prosecutors allege that Jonathan Toebbe tried to walk secrets astir blase and expensive Virginia-class submarines to idiosyncratic helium thought was a typical of a overseas authorities but who was really an undercover FBI agent. The authorities accuses Diana Toebbe of serving arsenic a lookout for her hubby astatine respective “dead drop” locations astatine which delicate accusation was near behind.
The mates pleaded not blameworthy successful national tribunal successful Martinsburg, West Virginia. They look beingness successful situation if convicted. The Toebbes person been jailed since their arrests.
The state to which Toebbe was looking to merchantability the accusation has not been identified successful tribunal documents and was not disclosed successful tribunal during the detention proceeding Wednesday.
A justice heard arguments but did not instantly regularisation connected whether Diana Toebbe should proceed to beryllium locked up. Jonathan Toebbe waived his close to a detention hearing.
Peter Olinits, a Pittsburgh-based cause specializing successful counterintelligence investigations, testified successful enactment of the government’s statement that Diana Toebbe was a imaginable formation hazard and should stay jailed arsenic the lawsuit moved forward. He described however agents connected the time of the couple’s apprehension found, among different objects, $11,300 successful cash, children’s valid passports and a “go-bag” containing a USB flash thrust and latex gloves.
Olinits besides cited substance messages from 2019 and 2020 successful which the Toebbes discussed leaving the country. But Diana Toebbe’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon, raised the anticipation that his 45-year-old client, who worked arsenic a teacher astatine a progressive backstage schoolhouse successful Annapolis, Maryland—was referring to her distress implicit the imaginable of President Donald Trump’s reelection.
“She’s not the lone wide that’s wanted to permission the state implicit politics,” MacMahon pointed out. “That’s correct, isn’t it, sir?”
The cause besides noted that the FBI has not been capable to find the astir $100,000 successful cryptocurrency payments that the bureau sent the Toebbes successful speech for the stolen authorities secrets.
The probe began successful precocious 2020 aft an FBI ineligible attache bureau successful an unspecified state obtained a bundle that prosecutors accidental Jonathan Toebbe had sent that nation. In a letter, helium offered to merchantability confidential U.S. Navy information, according to prosecutors.
The letter, dated April 1, 2020, and bearing a instrumentality code successful Pittsburgh, says: “If you bash not interaction maine by December 31 2020 I volition conclude, you’re uninterested, and volition attack different imaginable buyers,” according to Olinits’ testimony.
The FBI past utilized an undercover cause to pass with Jonathan Toebbe, arranging for the accusation to beryllium deposited astatine “dead drop” locations.
Olinits testified that Diana Toebbe accompanied her hubby connected 3 of the 4 missions. To debar suspicion, Olinits said, the Toebbes would formal arsenic if tourists oregon hikers and meander astir the driblet site. Authorities accidental Jonathan Toebbe near astatine the locations representation cards containing authorities secrets, concealing them successful objects including a chewing gum wrapper, a Band-Aid wrapper and a peanut food sandwich.
MacMahon, the lawyer for Diana Toebbe, argued that due to the fact that the FBI did not grounds immoderate of the couple’s conversations, agents really had nary impervious that his lawsuit had immoderate cognition of her husband’s activities oregon what precisely helium was doing.
“Did it hap to you arsenic portion of your probe that possibly Mr. Toebbe was telling her helium was up to thing different than espionage against the United States?” MacMahon asked.
“I deliberation that’d beryllium a hard happening to sell, but maybe,” Olinits said.
By Eric Tucker