Alexandria Sheriff Raymond E. Fogle is quitting his job today - to months before his regular terms expires, and seven months after the investigation was begun into charges that he encouraged his employees to pay their expenses accounts.

Fogle's surprise retirement is a direct result of the probe, according to a reliable source close to the investigation. Former Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Claude M. Hilton, who was appointed late last year to conduct any prosecution resulting from the investigation, declined to comment yesterday about his findings. He said he will hold a press conference on the subject today.

Fogle, 64, has been the city's sheriff since 1964. He confirmed yesterday that he is retiring today, but refused to say why. His response to all questions was, "That's the only comment I have."

In a second conversation, Fogle noted that some of his predecessors had died in office. "I want to walk out," the sheriff said. "I did the best I could, honey."

Last September, the Virginia State Police began investigating allegations that sheriffs department employees were padding their expenses accounts. The investigation apparently began after a former deputy sheriff, Theodore Dodd, charged that there was extensive misuse of expense accounts.

Dodd was fired by Fogle last year. Dodd has said he plans to run for sheriff in the November election.

Dodd also has a suit pending in U.S. District Court in Alexandria against Fogle, alleging that the sheriff fired him illegally, slandered him, and invaded his privacy.

City Registrar Stanford Hurst said there currently is legislation before the Virginia General Assembly that would allow a judge to appoint someone to replace Fogle rather than filling the position by special election.

Fogle clashed last summer with City Manager Douglas Harmon and his staff over personnel policies in the sheriff's office.

Harman told the city Council that at the time that Fogle hired part-time workers without open recruitment or the posting of vacancies, that he handled personnel grievance without any right of appeal outside the department, and that he dismissed employees without notive or without specific statements of charges.

Fogle said then: " . . . Every (city) manager who takes office wants to take a sock at me." He pointed out that, by law, he had the right to hire and fire whomever he pleased.