“The nation has spent billions of dollars developing nuclear propulsion technology for the navy,” Judge Groh said, reading the statement. “Mr. Toebbe’s actions have compromised the integrity of this proprietary information, undermining the military advantage of decades of research and development.”
The information Mr. Toebbe stole from the Navy, the statement said, could give foreign navies the opportunity to close the gap with the United States, something that would take extraordinary efforts and resources to recover.
After the hearing, Edward B. MacMahon, an attorney for Ms. Toebbe, said the defense would get back to work on the case.
“We thought this plea was a fair settlement of the case and are disappointed that the judge has not accepted it,” said Mr MacMahon.
Evidence presented earlier in the trial showed that Mr Toebbe struggled with questions about which country to approach, while Ms Toebbe was less scrupulous.
Mrs. Toebbe, a high school teacher with a Ph.D. in archeology, had been highly critical of President Donald J. Trump and had openly pondered leaving the United States, former students said. But defense attorneys for Ms. Toebbe noted that a distaste for Mr. Trump or the state of American politics was not uncommon.