Federal prosecutors have arrested Robert P. Burke, the former Navy vice chief of operations, on serious bribery charges. Burke, 62, from Coconut Creek, Florida, is accused of steering government contracts in exchange for a lucrative job offer post-retirement.

During his tenure overseeing American naval forces across Europe, Russia, and much of Africa, Burke allegedly directed a contract to an unnamed company in return for a $500,000 yearly salary and 100,000 stock options. Co-chief executives of the company, Yongchul “Charlie” Kim, 50, and Meghan Messenger, 47, both from New York, also face charges for their involvement in the scheme.

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From August 2018 to July 2019, the company conducted a workforce training pilot program for a small segment of the Navy. Despite the Navy terminating this contract in late 2019 and instructing the company to cease contact with Burke, the executives met with him again in July 2021. They proposed that he use his influence to secure a larger contract, estimated to be worth “triple digit millions,” in exchange for a post-retirement job.

In October 2022, shortly after retiring, Burke joined the company, which federal prosecutors claim was part of the bribery agreement. Burke faces multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, acts affecting personal financial interests, and concealment of material facts. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves emphasized the seriousness of the charges, stating, “The law does not make exceptions for admirals or CEOs. Those who pay and receive bribes must be held accountable.”

The indictment details that Burke ordered a $355,000 contract to train personnel in Italy and Spain in December 2021. He then attempted to secure a larger contract by making false statements and concealing his employment discussions. Burke’s lawyer, Timothy C. Parlatore, insists his client is innocent and plans to contest the charges, claiming no early employment discussions occurred.

Admiral Burke’s distinguished naval career began in 1982, culminating in his role as vice chief of naval operations and later as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, commanding thousands of personnel until his retirement in August 2022.