A U.S. public defender in Baltimore won nomination yesterday to become Maryland's first special prosecutor, charged with investigating political corruption in the state.

Gerald Glass, the 35-year-old nominee, headed the major fraud unit at Baltimore City's State's Attorney Office before he became a public defender last year.

Acting Governor Blair Lee III received the nomination yesterday from a special panel assembled this June to find one candidate for the new position. Lee must act on the nomination within one month.

The office of special prosecutor was created by the state legislature and approved by voters in 1976 after Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel was indicted on political corruption charges. Since his conviction this year, there has been a renewed interest in having a special prosecutor investigate political corruption in Maryland rather than leave it to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore.

Glass was one of 24 attorneys who applied for the position after advertisements appeared in Baltimore and Washington newspapers last July. He was chosen for his ability, integrity and his familiarity with Maryland politics, said Vernon Eney, a Baltimore attorney who headed the search committee.

"He has to understand the methods . . . the schemes of so-called white collar crimes," explained Eney. "To do that he has to know Maryland politics, which Mr. Glass does through his experience."

Glass was graduated from the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore Law School before he went to the State's Attorney's Office in Baltimore City in 1970. Five years later he was selected the assistant city solicitor for Baltimore.

If approved by Lee for special prosecutor, Glass will be allowed to pursue political corruption cases including public officials regardless of their location within the state. The prosecutor can then either investigate a crime and pass it on to a local state's attorney's office or he may prosecute it himself.