Story Tools

Date of Issue: July 15, 2009

Cramer ready for trial

Former Anna Maria City Commissioner Linda Cramer said she is prepared for the Aug. 10 trial of two men accused of home invasion, robbery and false imprisonment at her Anna Maria residence in April 2008.

“I’m looking forward to putting an end to this ordeal,” she said. “It’s been a tough year.”

In addition to the home invasion, in which she received multiple bruises and injuries when she struggled with her attackers, Cramer is suffering from a genetic kidney disease and has had other health issues the past 14 months.

“I really want to put closure to this,” Cramer said.

The two suspects arrested in the case, Michael Gambuzza and Christopher Drescher, have entered not guilty pleas.

Gambuza sent a letter to presiding Judge Gilbert A. Smith, in which he alleged he and Drescher’s civil rights were violated and that Cramer changed her testimony.

Cramer had no comment on Gambuzza’s allegation in his letter to Smith regarding her deposition as it related to identifying suspects in a police lineup.

 Gambuzza and Drescher have had four trial dates postponed since they were arrested in May 2008.

The two men are 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 bond since they were arrested about a week after the incident.

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.


Suspects claim civil rights violated

Michael Gambuzza and Christopher Drescher, the two suspects charged in the April 2008 home invasion and false imprisonment of former Anna Maria City Commissioner Linda Cramer, have alleged their civil rights were violated by law enforcement and that there are a number of errors and omissions in the case.

In a 10-page handwritten letter to presiding Judge Gilbert Smith, Gambuzza alleged that his and Drescher’s “civil rights have been violated repeatedly by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department,” including the arresting officers and investigators.

In addition to the letter, the suspects sent Smith a copy of a civil rights complaint they wrote that has not yet been filed with the U.S. District Court in Tampa.

The defendants name the arresting officers, the detectives who investigated the case and Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.

Gambuzza and Drescher allege that the defendants deprived them of their rights under the fourth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, while the 14th amendment guarantees everyone the right to due process and equal protection.