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Date of Issue: October 28, 2009

Trial for attack suspects moved to next year

The trial of two men accused of the April 2008 home invasion and beating of former Anna Maria Commissioner Linda Cramer has been postponed until Feb. 22, the sixth time the court date has been rescheduled.

According to the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court Web site, the trial was postponed until Feb. 22, 2010, at the request of suspect Christopher Drescher.

After five previous continuances, the trial was set to begin Oct. 10, but an Oct. 2 motion by Drescher for another postponement was granted by Judge Gilbert Smith.

A docket sounding of the trial was scheduled for Feb. 10.

Cramer said she was not surprised that the trial was continued to a new date, and expects another request for a postponement as the new trial date approaches.

  Drescher and co-defendant Michael Gambuzza were arrested in May 2008 and charged with one count each of home invasion and robbery, a first-degree felony, and one count each of false imprisonment, a third-degree felony.

The home invasion charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years upon conviction, while a guilty verdict for false imprisonment could bring up to 10 years jail time.

Both suspects have been in the Manatee County jail on a $175,000 per-person bond since they were arrested about a week after the incident. They also have both entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

Cramer was beaten and robbed at the home of her boyfriend, Joe Pandolph of Crescent Drive, after two men posing as delivery men forced their way into the house, reportedly looking for cash, jewelry or other valuables. Pandolph was not at home at the time of the attack.