Former VCNO Robert Burke Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charges

July 1, 2024 4:03 PM - Updated: July 5, 2024 3:29 PM
Adm. Robert Burke

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former Vice Chief of Naval Operations Robert Burke pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery in federal court Monday morning.
Burke, who is also charged with performing acts to affect a personal financial interest and concealing material facts, appeared before Judge Trevor McFadden with his two alleged co-conspirators in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Burke was previously held on a bond of $10,000 from his appearance in the Florida federal courts, but McFadden vacated the bond. Burke, Meghan Messenger and Yongchul “Charlie” Kim are all released on their own recognizance.

Messenger and Kim also pleaded not guilty to their charges. While all three appeared together for the arraignment hearing, it does not appear that they will be tried together. Each defendant will have their own attorney, with Timothy Parlatore representing Burke and William Burck representing Kim. Burck, who had no comment after the hearing, also represented Messenger Monday, although her attorney will soon enter their appearance to represent her, USNI News understands.

Burke’s attorney, Timothy Parlatore, told reporters that Burke plans to go to trial. During the hearing, Parlatore requested the judge look at April 2025 as a possible month for the trial, while Burck told McFadden that Kim and Messenger would like their trials to be done in 2024. Setting dates for the trial will be done at a status conference in August.

Parlatore is confident that Burke will be acquitted if the case goes to trial, telling reporters that it appears to be a misunderstanding of fact surrounding Burke’s employment at Next Jump, the company of which Messenger and Kim are CEOs.

According to the indictment of Burke, Kim and Messenger, the Department of Justice alleges that Messenger and Kim offered Burke employment with their company Next Jump if he gave them Navy contracts and encouraged other naval flag officers to use Next Jump, USNI News previously reported.

All three deny the charges, saying that there was no wrongdoing and that while Burke was offered employment, it was done appropriately.

Kim and Messenger have both shared multiple testimonials on social media X, including from retired Rear Adm. Linda Wackerman, supporting the company. Kim shared them with the hashtag Avenge Injustice.

During the hearing, Kathryn Fifield, the attorney for the government, requested that McFadden warn Kim and Messenger about sharing such posts, adding it could violate the release conditions.

One post that Kim shared was a Washington Post article that included statements from attorneys for Kim, Messenger and Next Jump. The comments questioned the Department of Justice’s case and declared Messenger and Kim innocent.

Parlatore also raised the Post article to reporters, highlighting the portions that mentioned how the government’s handling of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia and Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis cooperation cases may be influencing Burke’s prosecution.

The GDMA cases involved several naval officers charged with taking bribes from Francis who owned the Singapore-based company. Three dozen military officers were caught up in the corruption case, although recently charges against some have been dropped. 

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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