The chief executive of Empire Savings and Loan Association of Texas -- the first federally insured S&L in the state to fail -- expects to be indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges that he and other top officials of the institution conspired to defraud the S&L and the federal government of as much as $142 million, according to the chairman's lawyer.

Empire CEO Spencer H. Blain Jr. and six other top executives of the collapsed S&L are expected to be indicted "on at least 50 counts" of fraud and other criminal violations, said William Ravkind, the Dallas attorney defending Blain. Ravkind said that if his client is indicted, "He'll plead not guilty."

"I've heard the grand jury will meet {this morning} and return indictments by 3 p.m.," Ravkind said. "I'd be surprised if there's any less than 50 counts... . And after years of investigation, if they don't charge fraud, I'll faint."

Justice Department officials would not comment on the grand jury investigation of Empire, but sources in Texas said they expect the government to call a press conference as early as today to make a major announcement about the probe.

Federal prosecutors have succeeded in winning 90 indictments and convictions in connection with Empire, but have yet to indict or convict any of the top officials of the institution, whose collapse in early 1984 alerted federal regulators and prosecutors to what they claim is widespread mismanagement and fraud in the Texas S&L industry.

The Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the federal agency that regulates S&Ls and insures deposits at the institutions, has sued Blain and other officers in an attempt to recover at least $142 million the S&L had lost when it collapsed. Empire's problems are known in Texas as the "I-30 condo scandal" because of the S&L's role in financing many of the construction projects along Interstate 30 in Dallas and its suburbs.

The bank board has alleged that Empire officials conspired to inflate land values on property that the S&L used as collateral for loans. The loans allowed the S&L to report inflated assets and earnings. When the scheme collapsed, government regulators were forced to shut down the institution and pay insured depositors, according to the bank board.

Empire's was the largest S&L failure at the time and the first federally insured S&L closed in Texas. Since its collapse, 21 other Texas S&Ls have been closed, sold or taken over by federal regulators. Last spring, the Justice Department, the FBI and the IRS joined forces to investigate fraud at Texas S&Ls.

Ravkind said that the government was "going to have a difficult time proving conspiracy. What they perceived happened didn't happen. They'd have to get some Martians in here to testify or something."

Most of the losses at Empire and other S&Ls in Texas, he said, "were created by the government by coming in here and creating bad press. There have been some crooks, but to catch the crook, they burned the house down."