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A navy engineer was arrested in West Virginia this past Saturday after he was accused of engaging in espionage activity by hiding sensitive information about nuclear-powered submarines in a peanut butter sandwich and attempting to give them to a foreign agent.
According to NBC News, Jonathan Toebbe was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to communicate restricted data and other crimes after authorities concluded a several-month-long investigation. Toebbe’s wife, Diana Toebbe, was also arrested on allegations that she assisted him in his crimes.
As stated by West Virginia’s northern district in a statement, Toebbe, who began working with the navy in 2012, allegedly attempted to contact a foreign country and send military documents to their intelligence agency to establish a relationship with them. However, instead of sending these documents to a foreign agent, Toebbe was actually contacting an undercover FBI agent who posed as one.
The undercover agent and Toebbe began messaging through an encrypted service starting in February, with Toebbe sharing information about Virginia’s nuclear-powered warships that he was familiar with. Toebbe allegedly left a peanut butter sandwich and a Band-Aid with an SD card wrapped inside at dead drop locations in West Virginia on two separate occasions. His wife was allegedly acting as a lookout during these drop-offs.
After the FBI secretly paid Toebbe $100,000 in June, he shared a message with the undercover agent that reportedly read: “One day, when it is safe, perhaps two old friends will have a chance to stumble into each other at a cafe, share a bottle of wine and laugh over stories of their shared exploits. I will always remember your bravery in serving your country and your commitment to helping me.”
Johnathan and Diana Toebbe will appear in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia on Tuesday.