Ex-Manatee Port CFO faces second-degree felony charges

Herald staff reportJuly 24, 2013 

— Robert J. Armstrong, former Port Manatee deputy executive director and chief financial officer, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday to face second-degree felony accessory after the fact charges involving thefts made by his son.

“We knew he was going to turn himself in,” said Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “He’s bonded out already.”

Bond was set at $7,500.

Armstrong was fired June 27 from the port after criminal charges were lodged against his son, whom he’d hired at the port. The former No. 2 man at the port revealed he had purchased items stolen from the port and pawned by his son at Value Pawn in Palmetto. The elder Armstrong returned the stolen items to the port.

It’s been a rapid fall from grace for the 60-year-old Armstrong, who was promoted April 6 from his job as chief financial officer and senior director of business, earning $127,587 annually, to CFO and deputy executive director with a salary increase to $149,510.

His son, Robert Benton Armstrong, was arrested June 11 and charged with 24 counts of burglary, defrauding a pawn shop and dealing in stolen property, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Thefts at the Port Authority were determined to have begun as far back as Jan. 1.

Armstrong said his son “had a pill problem,” according to a police report.

Armstrong worked for the Florida Auditor General’s office before joining the port and was in public accounting for 25 years. He also was serving on the Florida Ports Council Finance Committees, the Government Finance Officers Association and various committees for the Florida and American Institutes of Certified Public Accountants.

The younger Armstrong has been arrested several times on charges of possessing heroin, cocaine, marijuana, Oxycodone, Xanax, Klonopin and other drugs.

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