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Date of Issue: July 01, 2009

Formal charges pending against burglary suspects

Formal charges are still pending against two men accused of committing a series of local burglaries this spring.

John O’Keefe and Patrick S. Banker, both 18 of Sarasota, were arrested May 19 after Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Alan Judy observed signs of a break-in at the Waterfront Restaurant in Anna Maria. Both men were arrested fleeing from the area.

Banker and O’Keefe were subsequently accused of breaking into more than a dozen local businesses, including in Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach and on Longboat Key.

But, as of The Islander press time, O’Keefe and Banker had only formally been charged in connection to one incident, a May 1 burglary at the Waterfront Restaurant.

Until June 24, both men had been held in the Manatee County jail on $5,000 bond for each charge.

Last week, attorneys for both O’Keefe and Banker filed motions calling for the release of uncharged defendants.

The motion in Banker’s case references the Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure, which states, “The state shall file formal charges on defendants in custody by information, or indictment … within 30 days from the date on which the defendants are arrested or from the date of the service of capiases upon them.”

The rule also requires that if a defendant remains uncharged on the 30th day, the court shall order the defendant’s release on personal recognizance.

The motion was filed June 19, 31 days after Banker’s arrest.

 The motion on O’Keefe’s behalf made a similar argument.

On June 24, Circuit Court Judge Diana Moreland issued an order for O’Keefe to be released on his own recognizance for most of the state accusations against him. But, facing a formal charge for the Waterfront burglary and awaiting bond, O’Keefe remained in jail as of The Islander press time.

Banker, however, was released from custody on June 24.