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New Plea Agreement Reached In Toebbe Submarine Case

Navy Engineer Nuclear Secrets

A federal treason case against Navy submarine engineer Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana continued Tuesday morning in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Martinsburg. The two have entered a new plea agreement.

The case involves the Toebbes allegedly trying to sell secrets about nuclear-powered submarines to a foreign government.

Prosecutors say Jonathan Toebbe used his position and access to top-secret government information to sell documents regarding the design and performance of Virginia-class submarines, while Diana Toebbe acted as a lookout at “dead-drop” locations where memory cards with the info were left.

The couple previously pleaded guilty in February after being arrested in October of last year in Jefferson County. They withdrew their pleas after the initial agreement was rejected last month. At the time, District Judge Gina M. Groh ruled that the sentencing options were “strikingly deficient.”

The most recent plea hearing saw the Toebbes re-admit guilt for a new agreement that involves what the prosecution called a “sentence within the case’s applicable guidelines.” The maximum punishment could mean life in prison for the couple and a $100,000 fine, though prosecutors are seeking the “low end” of the punishment in Diana’s case.

The binding terms are less concrete than the previous plea agreement, but make the sentencing more in line with federal advisory guidelines. Under the previous agreement, Jonathan Toebbe would have seen 12 to 17 years in prison. Diana Toebbe would have seen 3.

An email sent to West Virginia Public Broadcasting from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of West Virginia says the exact guideline sentencing range for each defendant “will not be determined until the completion of the U.S. Probation Office pre-sentence investigation.”

The sentencing hearing for both defendants is also yet to be scheduled. A previous trial date was set for Jan. 17 after the initial plea agreement was rejected.