Monday October 8, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A New York man who served close to eight years in prison for a 2004 armed robbery has admitted in Berkshire Superior Court to violating his probation. He was released from jail after his attorney convinced the judge his client would be heading back to his home state.

Keith Hempstead, 43, of Valatie, admitted to Judge John A. Agostini on Thursday that he hadn’t shown up to any probation meetings since June.

Hempstead was sentenced in the same court in 2004 to six to eight years in state prison on a charge of armed robbery while masked for holding up an Econo Lodge hotel in New Ashford.

He was also sentenced to 18 months of probation to follow his prison stint for receiving stolen property. Hempstead was caught selling stolen lift tickets from Jiminy Peak, according to Eagle records.

Hempstead served close to eight years, according to the Probation Department, in part because he tried to escape from prison.

Released in June 2011, Hempstead had his probation transferred to New York, but stopped showing up to his probation meetings. He was arrested in New York after his probation officer saw him walking along a road, Superior Court Probation Officer Sandy Taylor told the court.

Taylor asked that Hempstead be sentenced to six months in jail and then have his probation terminated.

Hempstead’s attorney, David Pixley, suggested a different approach. He told the court that Hempstead had already served about 2 1/2 months in jail awaiting the outcome of the case and asked for time served with the promise his client would return to New York. Pixley said that one of Hempstead’s family members, who lives near Albany, was willing to take Hempstead in.

Agostini asked the attorney whether he was suggesting that if given time served and released Hempstead would be "New York state’s problem."

Pixley answered that he didn’t want to characterize the situation that way, then added, "but, yes."

Agostini terminated the probation and released Hempstead.