Declaring that it was time "to set an example to put an end to this stealing from the government," a federal judge here sentenced a Northeast Washington man yesterday to serve a 1-to-3-year prison term in connection with a scheme in which he traded a free parking space to a federal worker in exchange for use of a General Services Administration credit card.

U.S. District Court Judge George L. Hart Jr. said that "stealing from the government seems to be coming a way of life" before he imposed the sentence on Bruce Jefferson, 27, of 27 42nd St. NE. Jefferson was arrested May 30 after what D.C. police described as a "shopping spree" with the credit card at 10 GSA supply stores over a two-year period.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Krakoff said Jefferson bought such items as bathroom deodorant, dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," pens, notebooks, folders and towels. Jefferson allegedly ran up bills that ranged from $5.94 to $711.08 on individual shopping excursions from May 1976 to May 1978, according to the indictment against him.

Jefferson routinely walked into the GSA stores and signed the fictitious name "Glenn Young" to the credit card bills, which then were sent to the U.S. Office of Education. But Krakoff said that neither GSA nor the Office of Education discovered the ruse until D.C. police arrested Jefferson.

Jefferson, a former employe of the D.C. government's Property Management Administration, obtained the credit card from a secretary in the Office of Education, who was authorized to use it for office purchase, by giving the woman a free parking space at the warehouse where Jefferson worked at 4th and C streets SW.

Krakoff said the woman, Lora K. Yancey, 30, of Laurel periodically gave the credit card to Jefferson, Yancey has been fired from her federal job and placed on six months' probation after pleading guilty to theft of government property, the prosecutor said.

Jefferson, who originally was charged with 169 counts of stealing federal property worth $36,500 before pleding guilty to three charges totaling $900, told Hart that he fenced the property he bought with the GSA credit card to support a drug habit.

He was given concurrent 1-to-3-year terms on all three charges and will have to serve at least one year of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

Krakoff said that only $700 of the property Jefferson bought has been recovered.

The prosecutor told Hart that Jefferson had committed a "severe abuse of public trust" and "must be incarcerated to demonstrate deterrence to the community and other government workers." Jefferson's attorney, Edwin Brown Jr., asked that Jefferson be placed on probation.