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Retired US Navy admiral arrested in bribery scheme involving government contracts

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Burke testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)

Retired four-star Navy Admiral Robert Burke was arrested Friday for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme that occurred from 2020 to 2022.

The 62-year-old former commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and Africa is accused of attempting to secure government contracts in exchange for future employment, the Justice Department said.

According to an indictment unsealed Friday, Burke met with Yongchul “Charlie” Kim and Meghan Messenger, co-CEOs of an unnamed company, in 2021.

The Justice Department claims the defendants allegedly agreed Burke would leverage his naval position to award a sole-source contract to the company in return for future employment.

Burke also purportedly promised to influence other Navy officers to grant a substantial training contract to the company, valued in the “triple digit millions,” officials said.

He now faces charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, acts affecting personal financial interests, and concealing material facts from the U.S. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Kim and Messenger also face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery, with potential sentences of up to 20 years each, department officials said.

The government-led investigation into the crimes, they added, is ongoing.


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