Then-Adm. Robert Burke (R) speaks to sailors and sarines onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Triniti Lersch)

WASHINGTON — Robert Burke, a former four-star admiral who briefly served as the second-most senior Navy officer, was arrested today for allegedly participating in a bribery scheme while commanding US Naval Forces Europe and Africa.

A newly unsealed indictment alleges that from 2020 to 2022 Burke agreed to use his influence as a senior officer to help an unnamed company win certain contracts “with a value [the contractors] allegedly estimated to be ‘triple digit millions,’” in exchange for future employment at the company.

“To conceal the scheme, Burke allegedly made several false and misleading statements to the Navy, including by creating the false appearance that Burke played no role in issuing the contract and falsely implying that Company A’s employment discussions with Burke only began months after the contract was awarded,” according to a Justice Department announcement.

Burke and two company executives are each charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery. The retired admiral is also charged with performing acts affecting a personal financial interest and concealing material facts from the United States. If convicted, the DOJ said Burke faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, while the business executives face a penalty of 20 years.

It’s unclear if Burke has retained an attorney in the case. Attempts to reach Burke for comment today were unsuccessful.

From July 2020 to 2022, Burke was the Navy’s most senior officer in Europe, commanding US Naval Forces Europe and Africa. Prior to that, he served as vice chief of naval operations for one year under then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, as well as chief of naval personnel from 2016 to 2019.