Fugitive ex-Manatee deputy arrested in Alaska after more than 23 years on the run

HERALD STAFF REPORTJune 21, 2014 

MANATEE -- A former Manatee County sheriff's deputy wanted since 1991 on a capital sexual battery charge has been arrested in Alaska on identify theft charges, according to federal officials.

The FBI early Friday arrested Joseph Keenan May, 60, at his home in Eagle River, Alaska. May had been the subject of a federal warrant charging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution since 1993, according to a news release.

"According to the indictment, May has been living under the identity of a stepbrother, Michael Camp, who died in his teens in the 1970s in Pennsylvania," the release states. "The indictment charges two counts of unlawful use of a Social Security number, stemming from May's use of Camp's name and number to apply for an Alaska's driver's license in 2009 and unemployment benefits in 2013."

May also is charged with aggravated identify theft.

He appeared in federal court in Anchorage at 6:30 p.m. EDT Friday, where he was given a public defender to represent him.

During his appearance before the court, May was advised of the charges against him.

"We asked that he be detained, and he was held without bail," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Bradley over the phone Friday evening.

Bradley, who began working on the case about a week ago, said May entered not guilty pleas to the federal identification theft charges. The appearance lasted about 15 minutes, and the case is set for trial on Aug. 11.

If convicted of the federal charges, May could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison. He faces a life prison sentence if convicted of capital sexual battery in Manatee.

May, a former road patrol deputy, was arrested in 1990 and accused of raping a 6-year-old girl. May fled the area before he could be tried on a charge of capital sexual battery. According to an arrest document, May assaulted the child "on numerous occasions between 1970 and 1977 within Manatee County at several locations."

May admitted to oral sex and told investigators that he fondled the victim. But he denied intercourse, the report stated.

Sheriff's deputies arrested May in the fall of 1990. He was held on high bond until Oct. 30, 1990, when a judge reduced it to $5,000, court records state.

A trial was set for March 1991. By then, May was gone.

Five months later, Aug. 28, 1991, a judge issued another warrant for May's arrest.

Officials said May committed his alleged crimes before joining the sheriff's office and has not been back to Manatee County since.

Federal investigators recently discovered that May's identity and the alias were linked.

"It came to our attention a couple weeks (ago)," said Bradley.

May could also face additional charges, Bradley said.

"He's been out here since 1991 living under that name and has never had any type of criminal problems or brushes with law enforcement," said Bradley. "He had to make sure that he was never in a position where he got fingerprinted -- even for a job."

Sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said he would not comment on May's arrest until next week. He said investigators plan to meet with the state attorney's office to determine how to proceed, since the case is so old.

During May's arrest, Bradley said he was told by both FBI and Social Security agents that numerous firearms were found in May's home and vehicle.

"I've done a lot of cases with fugitives -- people who have been on the run for two, three years -- even 15 years," Bradley said. "But for the type of charges he has -- this is the longest I've ever seen."

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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