A former News-Record employee pleaded no contest to four counts of embezzlement by employee.

Charity Armstrong, 58, of Miami, received a five-year deferred sentence for endorsing and cashing several thousand dollars worth of checks made payable to the News-Record.

Armstrong, the company's bookkeeper for 17 years, reportedly signed checks totally approximately $15,000 over a six-month period.

According to court records, MNR publisher Shannon Duhon received a copy of a check in late December of 2007 that had been made out to the Miami News-Record but endorsed by Armstrong.

The discovery led to an internal investigation by Miami Newspapers Inc. vice president Mike Thornberry.

Thornberry told detectives that, due to irregularities in the accounts receivables, he contacted several customers and collected copies of checks submitted for payment to the News-Record but personally endorsed by Armstrong.

According to Detective Steven Johnston of the Miami Police Department, Thornberry began receiving copies of checks made out to the News-Record which were signed by Armstrong.

“Thornberry called a meeting with Armstrong and Duhon on Jan. 21,” Johnston said. “He asked Armstrong about the signed checks and she admitted to signing and cashing them.”

Thornberry said Armstrong admitted that she had been cashing checks written to the News-Record for approximately one year.