A retired US Navy 4-star admiral arrested in connection with an alleged bribery scheme

  • Retired US Navy Admiral Robert P. Burke was arrested on alleged bribery charges, said the DOJ.

  • Burke denies all the charges, reported the US Naval Institute News.

  • Co-CEOs of Next Jump, Charlie Kim and Meghan Messenger, were also arrested.

A retired four-star US Navy admiral was arrested Friday in connection with an alleged bribery scheme that involved a government contract.

Robert P. Burke, 62, who from 2020-2022 oversaw US naval operations in Europe, Russia, and most of Africa, has been charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, performing acts to affect a personal financial interest, and concealing material facts, said a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

He could face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison if convicted, said the DOJ.

Burke denies the charges, reported the US Naval Institute News.

Yongchul "Charlie" Kim and Meghan Messenger, the co-CEOs of the company, which was not named in the DOJ release, but which was reported by the USNI News as being called Next Jump, were also arrested on charges related to their roles in the alleged bribery scheme.

The two are charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery and each face up to 20 years in prison, Said the DOJ release.

The alleged scheme involved Burke accepting future employment at the executives' company in exchange for awarding them a government contract, said the DOJ release.

According to the indictment, Kim and Messenger of New York first secured a government contract to provide training for pilots in the US Navy from 2018 to 2019, that Burke had advocated for. The Navy ended the contract and ordered the two CEOs not to contact Burke.

However, the indictment alleges that Kim and Messenger reached out multiple times to Burke, eventually having a call in which Burke said he wanted to work with the company, which Kim said would need to be attached to a deal, per the indictment.

The DOJ indictment alleges that Burke met with Kim and Messenger in Washington, DC, in July 2021 where he agreed to influence other officers to award another contract to Kim and Messenger's company, a contract that Kim valued in the "triple digit millions."

It is alleged, Burke later ordered his staff to award Messenger and Kim's company a contract to train naval personnel in Italy and Spain. According to the release, the contract was worth $355,000.

In October 2022, Burke began working at Next Jump receiving a salary of $500,000 and a grant of 100,000 stock options, said the DOJ release.

"Admiral Burke used his public office and his four-star status for his private gain," said US Attorney Matthew M. Graves in the DOJ release.

"The law does not make exceptions for admirals or CEOs. Those who pay and receive bribes must be held accountable. The urgency is at its greatest when, as here, senior government officials and senior executives are allegedly involved in the corruption," he said.

According to Burke's lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, Burke made his first appearance in court in Florida late Friday afternoon and is set to be arraigned in Washington, DC.

"We intend to go to trial and we expect that he will be found not guilty," Paralotre told the USNI News.

"The biggest problem with this indictment is the timeline. The DOJ wrongly believes that there was a job offer and job agreement far earlier than there was. There is no quid pro quo, no job for contracts whatsoever," he said.

"It looks odd he did later go work for them but he did not get into serious contract negotiations until the appropriate time and with the appropriate permissions."

In a statement, the US Navy told USNI News the service "cooperated with this investigation from the onset. We take this matter very seriously and will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice."

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