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Editor's Note: O'Keefe's criminal history was corrected. 

Joel O’Keefe, the felon and accused sex offender whose escape from police touched off a massive manhunt 23 years ago, is scheduled to be released from state prison later this month.

O’Keefe is to be released from Five Points Correctional Facility in central New York on Nov. 25, according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website.

“We received a notice last night that he is being released later this month,” Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said.

The notice indicates he is being released to 383 Broadway in Fort Edward, which is the address for the Washington County Municipal Center, and the county Department of Social Services.

It is common for prison inmates who are considered indigent to be released to the assistance of their local Department of Social Services, which locates temporary housing for them, typically at an area motel.

He will be supervised by parole officers, but will not have to register as a sex offender because a sex charge filed against him was dropped.

Police said they understood the Argyle native planned to return to Argyle when a residence that was acceptable to his parole officer was found.

Murphy’s office shared the state notice of release with other law enforcement agencies around the region late Monday.

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said his office also received the state notice, and because of concerns that were expressed by law enforcement, was looking into O’Keefe’s release status.

“I have requested some information from DOCCS,” Jordan said.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision acknowledged O’Keefe’s release could come at Nov. 25 “at the earliest.” The agency would not say whether a residence approved by parole staff had been located for him.

O’Keefe, 57, escaped from State Police in September 1994 as he was being transported back to jail from a court appearance, resulting in a massive manhunt. He had been arrested weeks earlier for a sexual assault and burglary in Saratoga County.

He remained on the lam for 13 days before he was caught at a Subway sandwich shop in Bennington, Vermont, when a clerk recognized him as the notorious escapee.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to felony counts of burglary, criminal possession of a weapon and escape. A sodomy charge was dropped as part of a plea deal.

The DOCCS website indicated that O’Keefe was being “conditionally” released and not paroled. Inmates become eligible for conditional release when they serve two-thirds of their sentence without disciplinary issues.

O’Keefe, though, had a number of major disciplinary issues in prison, including at least three contraband-related escape attempts. He has been denied parole on at least three occasions.

He was prosecuted twice in 2000 for possessing items including a grappling hook, handmade rope and a device to pick locks at Clinton Correctional Facility, which prison officials contended were to be used for an escape try.

O’Keefe also was charged in 2001 after he somehow came into possession of a toy gun painted black while in Southport Correctional Facility, and pointed it at corrections officers who were transporting him. They disarmed him.

He pleaded guilty in three different prison cases and received an additional 4 1/2 to 9 years in prison on top of the 10- to 20-year term he received for the 1994 sexual assault and escape.

DOCCS said that history behind bars did have an effect on his conditional release eligibility.

“O’Keefe’s disciplinary infractions while in DOCCS custody did result in a delay of his conditional release date,” a spokesperson for the agency wrote in an email.

In all, he will have served more than 23 years in jail or prison, of a 14 1/2- to 29-year prison term, when he comes up for release.

O’Keefe had an extensive criminal record, including at least one felony conviction, before his 1994 arrests.



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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