One of the highest-ranking officials of the U.S. Marshals service was ordered held on $5,00 bond yesterday after his arrest on charges that he accepted money to provide special treatment for a jailed prisoner.

The bond was set for Ellsworth T. Olds, 48, of 8844 Tamar Dr., Columbia, Md., after a federal prosecutor told the court that Olds had bragged to an undercover agent about his alleged ability to corrupt the system of justice. Olds is the marshals service's special assistant for minority affairs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore A. Shmanda of the major crimes division said Olds told the undercover agent that he could manipulate the prisoner-handling system so a prisoner could be "lost" if he were scheduled to appear before a judge considered too tough; that he knew about narcotics trafficking and even claimed he could have someone "hit," a common parlance for murder.

According to court files, Olds was arrested Monday after an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent handed him $300 to have a letter delivered to a prisoner.

The court records gave the following chronology of that incident:

The undercover agent contacted Olds after the government heard allegations that Olds was involved in providing alleged "special favors" for prisoners in return for money, and the agent asked Olds to help an acquaintance in D.C. Jail.

The agent then made several contacts with Olds and on Monday morning, asked Olds if a prisoner could be transferred from a jail in Virginia to D.C. Jail so he could help fabricate an alibi for the D.C. prisoner. Later that day, Olds reportedly told the agent that the prisoner could not be transferred but that he could get a letter to him.

The undercover agent delivered the letter to Olds in front of the marshals Service headquarters at 550 11th St. NW, and gave Olds a $100 bill, according to an arrest affidavit.

"Olds told (the special agent) that $100 was not sufficient," the affidavit continued. The agent "subsequently gave Olds a second $100 bill and Olds stated that he needed an additional $100 for the individual who was to deliver the letter."

Olds was arrested moments after he took the third $100 bill, the affidavit stated. He was charged with bribery.

Shmanda told U.S. Magistrate Lawrence Margolis yesterday that a total of $1,400 in bribe money had been paid to Olds by government agents during the month-long investigation.

William L. Taylor, representing Olds, said the governmnet's request for a money bond was "silly" since Olds has "absolutely a clean record" and solid community ties. Taylor said Olds "vigorously denied" all the allegations against him.

Olds, who lives with his wife and son, is on administrative leave from his $36,000-a-year-job pending further investigation.