A convicted housebreaker, mistakenly freed from a federal prison in Florida two years ago, has become the subject of a finger-pointing dispute between District of Columbia and federal prison officials who was responsible for the prisoner's premature freedom.

District authorities say they notified the federal authorities that they wanted the man, William Haynesworth McFadden Jr., 23, for an assortment of burglary and larceny charges here, and he should have been routinely transferred to the District three years ago when he finished his time in Florida.

But McFadden's jailers in Florida claim they never got the word from the District, and the man was released on parole in a flurry of misplaced paperwork.

The bureaucracy finally caught up with McFadden again when he was recently arrested and convicted in Montgomery County on yet another set of housebreaking charges, and District authorities were notified of his presence there. McFadden is still being held on $150,000 bond pending sentencing in that case.

According to D.C. officals, the problems with McFadden began several years ago when they sent written instructions to the Florida prison where McFadden was then incarcerated, alerting jailers there that McFadden had in fact another 6-to-18-year sentence to serve in the District of Columbia after his Florida stint. The federal officals in Florida say they never got the word.

D.C. authorities contend that they are not to blame. The critical documents that they prepared and sent to Florida definitely were transported to the Tallahassee institution via the U.S. Marshall's Service, city authorities say.

The marshal's service here confirms that version, asserting that deputy marshals hand-carried McFadden's new commitment papers to the federal prison authorities in Tallahassee.

Not so, say the feds. They never got the papers, and moreover, they claim,. they wrote a letter to D.C. court officials asking whether McFadden had additional time to serve. They say they got no reply. "I don't know what's going on up there," said Acting Warden D.J. Sutherland of the federal correctional institution in Tallahassee.

"Those are very important documents," he said in a telephone interview. "They are kept in a very secure place away from inmates. I don't think we would have gotten the damn things and thrown them away."