A top US admiral got a $500,000 job for steering a firm a sole-source contract, prosecutors allege

  • A former top Navy admiral was arrested Friday on charges related to a bribery scheme.

  • The Justice Department alleges Burke accepted bribes to steer work towards a company.

  • Burke is a retired four-star and the former vice chief of naval operations.

A retired top US Navy admiral who briefly served as the second highest-ranking Navy officer was arrested Friday on federal charges related to a bribery scheme.

The US Department of Justice alleged that from 2020 to 2022, then-Adm. Robert Burke accepted bribes to help a training firm win certain contracts while he was commanding US Naval Forces Europe and Africa in exchange for a high-paying job as soon as he retired.

The indictment said that Burke, a former four-star, used "his official position to influence other Navy officers to award another contract to Company A to train a large portion of the Navy with a value [the contractors] allegedly estimated to be 'triple digit millions.'"

The company had previously had a contract with the Navy to provide a workforce training pilot program from August 2018 to July 2019 before it was then terminated in late 2019.

While the company remains unnamed in the DOJ release, Yongchul "Charlie" Kim and Meghan Messenger are named as the two other co-defendants in the case and identified as co-CEOs of the company. Kim and Messenger are listed as co-CEOs on the site of company called NextJump.

Burke, the indictment said, is alleged to have ordered his staff to award a contract to the company to train personnel directly under his command in Italy and Spain in December 2021. The contract's cost was $355,000.

After Burke retired from the Navy in October 2022, he began working at the company with a yearly starting salary of $500,000, the indictment added.

DOJ also noted that Burke purportedly lied to the Navy about this employment and his relationship with the company, writing: "To conceal the scheme, Burke allegedly made several false and misleading statements to the Navy, including by creating the false appearance that Burke played no role in issuing the contract and falsely implying that Company A's employment discussions with Burke only began months after the contract was awarded."

Burke, Kim and Messenger did not immediately reply to a message from BI seeking comment Friday.

Burke was the Navy's highest ranking officer in Europe from July 2020 to 2022. Prior to that, he was the Vice Chief of Naval Operations for one year. A career submariner, his operational assignments include both attack and ballistic submarines.

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