Someone broke the law when a $1,271.69 order of mostly alcoholic beverages was picked up at Leeds Beverages Inc. in the District and transported to Ethel Kennedy's Hickory Hill estate in Virginia for the Dec. 16 fund-raiser she held for her brother-in-law, Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy.

It is illegal in Virginia, which has state liquor stores, to transport more than one gallon for each adult in a vehicle crossing the state line.

Violators can be fined $500 and sentenced to a year in jail and many even have their automobiles confiscated.

Carl Hayden, an enforcement officer for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in Virginia, said last week that he and others in his office have had Ethel Kennedy and Sen. Kennedy and their household staffs under surveillance "for at least six years."

Hayden says: "We've known for a long time that they buy large quantities of liquor and wine [at more than one store] in the District. We've staked out those stores and tried on on several occasions to catch them, but unfortunately we've never had much luck. Of course, we never thought we'd catch the senator or Mrs. Kennedy themselves. We expected it to be someone on their staffs."

Hayden said anonymous callers and other informants through the years have told him and his office about the Kennedy's habit of shopping at the District's less-expensive discount stores for their parties.

Another ABC enforcement officer said last week that he had once staked out Calvert Liquors in Georgetown for a week, hoping "to catch an [employe] we were told was picking up liquor for the Kennedys in an old station wagon, but we never caught him."

Somone at the Kennedy for President committee listed the Leeds Beverage purchase on a recent filing of expenditures with the Federal Election Commission.

Martha Angle, a press Spokesman for the Kennedy campaign headquarters, declined last week and again yesterday "to go beyond what the public record shows" in explaining what events the wine, beer and liquor purchases were made for.

Angle said that she could not and would not check the invoice on the billing. FEC auditors can look at it on request, she said. She was "sure," she said, that ABC enforcement officers would also be allowed to see the same records.

Don Goldman, owner of Leeds Beverages, 4201 Wisconsin Ave. NW, told a reporter yesterday that the large order from his store was made for the Hickory Hill fund-raiser by Ann Vanderpool, a longtime Kennedy supporter and close friend of both Ethel Kennedy and her sister-in-law Joan.

Goldman said that he recommended a couple of good French white burgundies and that the rest of the order consisted of "your name-brand Scotches, vodkas, etc., a couple of imported beers like Heineken, plus sodas and mixers."

Goldman said that he did not remember how the order got to Hickory Hill. "It's illegal to take it into Virginia, you know." He named one employe of Sen. Kennedy's who has sometimes made pick ups for parties in the past, but did not recall that person doing so for the December fund-raiser.

Vanderpool confims that she placed the order for the Hickory Hill party. "I was given a list of things they told me they would need," she says. The list came from another friend of Ethel's she said, "who was coordinating things out there.

"Isn't wonderful?" she said."For once, I didn't have to worry about the color of the table cloths . . . all I did was order the stuff . . so many cases of this and so many cases of that two bottles of sherry, etc."

Vanderpool said she didn't remember the bill's total, "but $1,200 sounds about right, there were 400 to 500 people there."

She does not know who made the pickup and delivery, she said.

The ABC enforcement office in Virginia as referred any possible violations to Fairfax County's common wealth attorney, Robert Horan.

Horan said last week that "there is no question that this is a criminal violation." He has told Hayden, Horan said, that "in my opinion, he should be pursuing it.

"Somebody had to sign for that liquor," Horan said. "It will be interesting to see who that was . . . If the ABC puts together a case, I intend to prosecute."

The law was also broken last Oct. 10, when Mrs. Kennedy gave another fund-raiser at Hickory Hill for Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), a longtime Kennedy friend.

According to Bayh's FEC filing, Phil-Co Cut Rate Liquors in Washington supplied a party that month with $579.96 worth of booze.

Unlike Sen. Kennedy's office, Sen. Bayh's had no trouble locating an invoice to match the check reported to FEC. "It was for liquor for the Hickory Hill party," a press aide said.