Retired US Navy admiral accused of corruption with tech CEOs

In 2021, Burke reportedly directed his team to award Kim and Messenger a $355,000 military contract. In exchange, Kim and Messenger allegedly promised Burke a job with their company in the future.

In 2022, Burke began working as a senior associate at Next Jump with a starting annual salary of $500,000 and 100,000 stock options, the DOJ said.

“Admiral Burke disputes these accusations,” Burke’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, told CNBC on Saturday. “We will demand a trial where we hope he will be found not guilty.”

Parlatore confirmed that Next Jump was awarded a $355,000 military contract and that Burke then worked for Next Jump for $500,000 a year. But as to whether one was a bribe for the other, he replied: “Absolutely not.”

Burke faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while Kim and Messenger each face 20 years.

According to Parlatore, Burke only worked at Next Jump for a few months and left the organization in part due to “personality conflicts.”

Lawyers for Messenger and Kim did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of office hours.

Burke’s arraignment will be coordinated on Monday, Parlatore said, and over the next few weeks he will appear in court in Washington, D.C. to plead not guilty.

The DOJ’s charges against Burke come weeks after a federal judge threw out felony convictions against five military officers involved in what a senior administration official previously called “one of the most brazen corruption in the history of the United States Navy.

This corruption scheme centered on former defense contractor Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” who allegedly gave military officers luxury gifts like Cuban cigars and Kobe beef in exchange confidential military information.

Five officers had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Francis, but on May 21, their felony convictions were thrown out due to prosecutorial errors by the DOJ.

The firings marred a long saga of the DOJ’s efforts to hold accountable those involved in Francis’ scheme.

Although the Fat Leonard scheme is not directly related to Burke’s case, Parlatore overlooked the DOJ’s timing of bringing the corruption charges against Burke.

“In the immediate wake of Fat Leonard’s convictions being overturned due to DOJ misconduct, the timing seems a bit curious,” he said. “That sounds to me like someone from the DOJ saying, ‘Hey, hold my beer.'”

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