Retired Navy Admiral indicted on charges of bribery for allegedly giving government contract in exchange for $500K job after retirement

WASHINGTON, DC - A news release from the Department of Justice (DOJ) states that a retired Navy Admiral and two business executives have been arrested and charged for their roles in a bribery scheme that involved a U.S. government contract.

Federal prosecutors have accused the retired four-star Navy Admiral of entering into an alleged bribery scheme with a government contractor to secure his employment after retirement. The grand jury indicted retired Admiral Robert Burke on a total of four counts, including conspiracy and bribery. 

While in the Navy as an Admiral, Burke oversaw Naval operations in Europe, Russia, and most of Africa where he commanded thousands of civilian and military personnel. Prosecutors said that Burke allegedly secured a government contract for his co-defendants, Yongchul "Charlie" Kim and Meghan Messenger, both of New York and both are the co-CEO's of an unnamed company that distributes "perks at work" and training programs in exchange for a future job.

The company, described as Company A in court documents, provided a workforce training pilot program to a small component of the Navy from August 2018 through July 2019. The Navy terminated the contract with Company A in late 2019 and directed the company not to contact Burke.

However, prosecutors allege that despite those instructions, Kim and Messenger met with Burke in Washington, D.C. in July 2021 in an effort to "reestablish Company A's business relationship with the Navy." According to the news release from the DOJ, "At the meeting, the charged defendants allegedly agreed that Burke would use his position as a Navy Admiral to steer a sole-source contract to Company A in exchange for future employment at the company. They allegedly further agreed that Burke would use 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 Kim allegedly estimated to be 'triple digit millions.'"

Weeks after, Burke asked an unnamed individual to find funding to secure Company A, a contract from U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Africa. Prosecutors said, "In exchange [they] offered Burke a job at Company A - at a salary of at least $500,000 per year and a grant of 100,000 stock options ... to commence after Burke retired from the Navy." 

In August of 2021, the admiral gave notice that he intended to retire in May 2022. In October 2022, Burke began working at Company A at a yearly starting salary of $500,000 and a grant of 100,000 stock options. Court documents list Kim and Messenger's company as "Company A," but according to CBS News, the actual name of the company is Next Jump and it is based in New York. 

Prosecutors also charged Burke with allegedly concealing his conduct from Navy officials while promoting the company's work to others. Burke is accused of hiding the job offer he received from the company while still serving in the Navy and instead told the Department of Defense (DoD) that he intended to "commence discussion" with Kim and Messenger after his retirement.

Burke's attorney, Timothy Parlatore said, "Admiral Burke vehemently denies these charges and served his country honorably. We intend to take this case to trial and win an acquittal." 

If convicted, Burke faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and Kim and Messenger each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. In his own statement, Grant Fleming, deputy director at DoD's office of the inspector general said, "Today's indictment exemplifies our unwavering commitment to eradicating fraud within the DoD."
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