LAS VEGAS — Officials at a remote Nevada prison where O.J. Simpson was set free early Sunday after nine years for armed robbery arranged the former football and Hollywood star’s dead-of-night departure to avoid public scrutiny.

It worked. Simpson signed release paperwork just before midnight and disappeared into the darkness minutes into the first day he was eligible for release. Through efforts by prison officials to keep the time and place secret, there were no journalists outside the prison gates to capture the moment.

Though publicity-prone in the past, Simpson was neither heard from nor seen publicly as the day wore on – apparently taking the advice of people in his inner circle that he avoid the spotlight.

Simpson was released at 12:08 a.m. PDT from Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada, state prisons spokeswoman Brooke Keast said. She said she didn’t know the name of the driver who met him and took him to an undisclosed location.

Keast recorded and released a brief video on social media in which Simpson is told to “come on out” and he responds “OK” after walking through an open door and toward a parking lot bordered by desert scrub brush.

“I don’t have any information on where he’s going,” said Keast, who also took photographs showing Simpson – in blue jeans, denim jacket, eyeglasses, ball cap and white sneakers – signing documents about 10 minutes before midnight. He left the prison with four or five boxes of possessions in the car, she said.

Tom Scotto, a Simpson friend who lives in Naples, Florida, said by text message an hour after the release that he was with Simpson. But Scotto did not answer texts asking where they were going or whether members of Simpson’s family were with them.

Along with Simpson’s sister and oldest daughter, Scotto had attended the July parole hearing at the same prison where Simpson went after his conviction for a botched 2007 heist at a Las Vegas hotel room – prison time he avoided after his 1995 acquittal in the killings of his ex-wife and her friend.

The 70-year-old Simpson said at the hearing that he wanted to move back to Florida, where he lived previously. But Florida’s Corrections Department “has not received any transfer paperwork from Nevada,” spokeswoman Ashley Cook said Sunday.