A Washington lawyer pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to three fraud charges in connection with a scheme to submit false claims to insurance companies on behalf of clients who were involved in automobile accidents, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The lawyer, Zollie Richburg, 37, would submit false or inflated claims for medical bills, property damage and lost wages, according to a 30-count indictment handed down in March 1977. Richburg then kept the payments himself or paid a portion of the funds to his client, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

According to the indictment, the claims totaled about $15,000 over a period of more than three years.

Richburg fled the country before the indictment was delivered by a federal grand jury, but surrendered to law enforcement authorities here about a month ago, the prosecutor's office said. Richburg's law practice was located at 1709 N St. NW. He once was an assitant U.S. attorney here.

Richburg was disbarred from the practice of law in federal and local courts here last March, according to records at the D.C. Court of Appeals.

At a hearing before Judge George L. Hart Jr. yesterday, Richburg pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of false pretenses in connection with the insurance scheme, the U.S. attorney's office said. Richburg faces three years in prison and a $1,000 fine on the mail fraud charge, and three years in prison on each of the charges of false pretenses, that office said.

Judge Hart postponed sentencing pending receipt of a presentence report, the prosecutor's office said. Richburg was released on $10,000 bond. As part of a plea bargain arrangement, the remaining charges against Richburg will be dismissed at the time of sentencing,the U.S. attorney's office said.