The FBI is charging the retired four-star Navy admiral over an alleged bribery scheme

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File: Admiral Robert Burke (ret.), 2021

DVDIDS, Allied Joint Force Command Naples


Washington – Federal prosecutors charged a retired four-star Navy admiral – who last served as US commander Marine forces in Europe and Africa — of engaging in an alleged bribery scheme with a government contractor to secure employment after his retirement.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicted Admiral Robert Burke (ret.) on four counts, including conspiracy and bribery, according to court documents released Friday.

Prosecutors said Burke allegedly secured a government contract for his co-defendants Yongchul “Charlie” Kim and Meghan Messenger — described in the indictment as executives of an unnamed company that distributes “work perks” and training programs — in exchange for a future job.

“Admiral Burke vehemently denies these allegations and has served his country honorably. We intend to take this case to trial and obtain an acquittal,” Burke's attorney, Timothy Parlatore, told CBS News.

Investigators alleged that Burke, Kim and Messenger began communicating about a new contract for the “perks at work” company in 2021, years after the Navy officially cut ties with the company. According to court documents, they began talking after Burke and his office rejected the company's initial overtures, citing U.S. Navy policy.

In April 2021, prosecutors said the trio spoke via WhatsApp. “Burke wants to work for us, but we're asking for a deal first,” Kim allegedly said after the call, adding that Messenger “felt slimy,” the complaint revealed.

Weeks later, according to charging documents, Burke asked an unnamed individual to find financing to get the company a U.S. Navy contract in Europe and Africa. And in July, he reportedly met Kim, Messenger, and another unnamed individual for lunch in Washington, D.C., during which time they discussed with the admiral ensuring that the company would receive its federal contract.

“In return [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…that would begin after Burke retired from the Navy,” prosecutors wrote.

According to federal prosecutors, the admiral indicated in August 2021 that he planned to retire in May 2022.

In December 2021, investigators accused Burke of ordering the drafting of a contract for the company. Weeks later, Burke's unit submitted a purchase request worth more than $350,000 so that the company could conduct a training program in Italy and Spain. Prosecutors say employees working for Kim and Messenger's company officially offered the training to Navy personnel stationed in those countries in January 2022.

Burke's employment with the company began in October 2022, court documents allege.

Kim and Messenger are listed as “Co-CEOs” at Next Jump, a New York-based company that offers employers “workplace benefits” and training programs. The company did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment from CBS News and the couple's attorneys were not immediately identified.

Prosecutors also accused Burke of concealing his conduct from Navy officials while promoting the company's work to others. He is accused of concealing the job offer he received from the company while still serving in the Navy, and instead telling the Defense Department that he planned to interview Kim and Messenger after his retirement to start.

Parlatore, Burke's attorney, questioned the timeline of events outlined in the indictment and said the evidence will ultimately refute prosecutors' claims.

In a statement, Grant Fleming, deputy director of the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General, said, “Today's indictment is an example of our continued commitment to rooting out fraud within the Department of Defense.”

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