DENVER (CBS4) – Two former Colorado educators will go before a federal judge on Tuesday morning after the FBI says they were caught trying to sell classified nuclear secrets. According to a spokesperson for Kent Denver School, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe worked in the science department of their high school starting in 2005.
Federal law enforcement arrested the couple, who now lives in Annapolis, Maryland, over the weekend on charges related to espionage.
Jonathan Toebbe, a former Navy Engineer, earned master’s degree in nuclear engineering at Colorado School of Mines in 2012. According to court documents, in April of 2020 he contacted an unnamed foreign country attempting to sell U.S. nuclear submarine secrets. That country tipped off the FBI.
Eric O’Neil, who worked undercover as an FBI counterintelligence operative, spoke with CBS News about the case.
“Our submarine program is the biggest defense capability the U.S has.”
In 2019, CBS4 was given special access on board one of those nuclear-powered submarines, the USS Colorado. Crewmembers detailed its high-tech capabilities.
“Anti-submarine warfare make sure we can track other submerged contacts from other nations; anti-service warfare being able to identify and locate their surface ships follow them track them or intelligence surveillance reconnaissance,” said Lt. Quinlan Melvin one of the Sailors onboard the USS Colorado.
Court documents go on to say that Toebbe had access to high level information about those submarines and delivered it to an undercover agent on multiple occasions, leaving SD cards at designated drop locations hidden in a peanut butter sandwich, Band-Aids and chewing gum packages.
His wife was reportedly working with him as a lookout.