Barbara Mandel, who received a settlement worth at least $400,000 when she divorced suspended Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel in 1974, yesterday filed suit againt her former husband to collect $19,358 in back alimony and related payments.

Also named as a defendant in the suit was Mandel's long-time friend and chief political fund-raiser Irvin Kovens who, according to the suit, had guaranteed the settlement when Barbara Mandel expressed concern over her husban's ability to make the payments.

The divorce settlement emerged as a major issue earlier this year during Mandel's retrial on political corruption charges, when the prosecutors revealed that Kovens, one of Mandel's codefendants, had given Barbara Mandel $155,000 worth of tax-free bonds as part of the divorce settlement.

Mandel, Kovens, and four other defendants were convicted last August of U.S. mail fraud and racketeering charges after an 11-week trial. All the defendants are appealing their convictions. Mandel and Kovens both were sentenced to serve four-year jail terms.

According to the case presented by federal prosecutors, Mandel accepted more than $350,000 worth of vacations, bogus legal fees, and gifts from his codefendants - including Kovens' gift of bonds to his former wife - in return for lobbying for legislation that increased the value of a race track owned by Kovens and three other codefendants.

About an hour after his divorce from Barbara Mandel on Aug. 13, 1974, became final, Mandel was wed in Baltimore to the former Jeanne Dorsey.

According to the divorce settlement details of which were pieced together during the trial both from evidence in court and from sources, Barbara Mandel received a $39,062 payment made one month after the divorce decree, $73,000 from mandel's savings account, a new luxury Buick sedan, a $25,000 interest in a leasing firm, the bonds from Kovens, and a $100,000 life insurance policy on her husband.

However, the suit filed yesterday in Baltimore City's trial court, the Supreme Bench, charges that this $100,000 insurance policy never has been turned over to Barbara Mandel - and thus she has no proof that she was made the "irrevocable beneficiary," as the divorce agreement stipulated.

In addition to the payments, car and business interests, Barbara Mandel also was to receive alimony payments of at least $1,500 monthly for three years from the date of the decree.

That period should have ended just as the jury in the corruption trial went out to deliberate in mid-August.

Mandel, through his former press secretary Frank DeFilippo, refused all comment on the suit last night. Barbara Mandel said only, "I have no comment."

In his summation at the close of Mandel's trial, the then-governor's defense attorney, Arnold Weiner, described his client as a "ruined man" who was also "broke."

Mandel, who also is facing disbarment proceedings before Maryland's Court of Appeals, has been living with his second wife, Jeanne, in Arnold, near Annapolis, while awaiting the outcome of his appeal.