Alleged spies in federal court for trying to sell military secrets to foreign government

West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Two suspects remain behind bars at the Eastern Regional Jail in West Virginia on espionage charges, just weeks after their arrest in Jefferson County, West Virginia.

The defendants have court-appointed counsel. Jonathan and Diana Toebbe are charged with selling top-secret files from the U.S. Navy about nuclear submarine propulsion programs. They have been formally indicted in federal court in Elkins, West Virginia. Now the process for their trial is being mapped out in a Martinsburg courtroom.

Wednesday’s hearing is to review “certain deadlines that the parties have to meet in terms of disclosing witnesses and providing discovery which is information about each side’s case,” says Paul Taylor, a Martinsburg attorney who practices before the federal court. Federal prosecutors called to the stand in Wednesday’s hearing an FBI agent who presented substantial photographic and video evidence of the Toebbe’s making “dead drops” of classified data, wrapped in peanut butter sandwiches or Dentyne Ice Gum wrappers.

“It’s not unusual for defendants to attempt to reach an agreed resolution with the government — that’s called a plea agreement — sometimes agreements are reached. Sometimes they are not,” said Taylor.

Jonathan Toebbe will remain behind bars, and so will Dianna for the time being. Her defense argues that she was merely an innocent bystander to her husband’s alleged crimes. Her counsel argued to the court that, as a mother, she is not a flight risk, and she should be allowed to await her next, and subsequent, court hearings from her Annapolis home with their two young children.

As a government scientist, Mr. Toebbe earned $153,000 a year. Records say he faced financial challenges as a graduate student in Colorado several years ago.

The federal magistrate set a series of subsequent court dates for the Toebbes extending into December.

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