Thirty guns belonging to the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department have disappeared, according to an audit recently completed by the county's Office of Audit and Investigation.

The audit, requested by Sheriff James V. Aluisi when he took office Dec. 4, shows that 26 handguns and four shotguns assigned by the county to the sheriff's office are unaccounted for. County records show that a total of 367 guns were asigned to the sheriff's office; during the recent audit only 337 were found.

Audit investigators said in their report that the record-keeping in the sheriff's office was so inadequate that they could not pinpoint when the missing guns disappeared.

In fact, "the loss of the weapons was the direct result of incorrect and inadequate record-keeping," the report stated.

In addition to the weapons, the audit noted that $200 of the sheriff's department funds could not be found and said, "the money was lost because departmental procedures were not followed in handling the funds."

Aluisi had discovered shortly after he took office that some 20 guns and about $200 in cash were missing from the department.

"There were a lot of irregularities when we assumed office," Aluisi said yesterday. "The audit confirmed that there was equipment missing, including the guns. We are going to reorganize the system here to make sure this does not happen in the future."

Aluisi also said that the serial numbers and descriptions of all the missing guns would be sent out on a teletype to other law enforcement agencies. "If they turn up anywhere we will try to find out how they got where they are," he said. "We will work with the state's attorney's office on this. We will prosecute if and when we find the guns."

Aluisi declined to comment on how the guns might have disappeared, saying, "I don't want to say anything critical about the past administration. This is a new game for us. We're starting from square one."

Rumours about the missing guns began to circulate around the courthouse even before former sheriff Don Edward Ansell, who did not seek reelection, left office. Contacted about the rumours at the time, Ansell said, "There is not one single solitary gun missing from this department. If you print that there are guns missing, I'll sue you because you'll be calling me a thief and I'm no thief."

Wen Aluisi's preliminary audit turned up 20 guns missing Ansell said, "Someone's giving you false information." Told that the missing guns were mentioned in a 1977 audit done by his deputy Guy V. Williams, Ansell called Williams, then conceded the guns were listed as missing.

"But we decided that was because there was some inverted serial numbers and we decided the guns never existed," Ansell said.

Yesterday, informed of the audit's results, Ansell said, "Very frankly I'm not in there anymore and I'm not the least bit interested.I couldn't care less."

Asked if he had any theories on where the guns might be, Ansell said, "I wouldn't tell you a goddamn thing if you were the last person on the goddamn earth and you can quote me on that."

The investigators also noted that, when the sheriff's department and the Department of Corrections were split into two units, Ansell moved some office furniture and a TV set from the detention center to his office in the courthouse. The investigators also reported that Ansell spent $3,363 in detention center funds on equipment used by the sheriff's department.

"We have asked the county attorney to issue an opinion as to the legality of such actions," the investigators concluded.