James Thomas, one of nine defendants convicted Friday in the so called "fat lady" drug trial was found hanged yesterday in a locked ward of D.C. General Hospital, according to corrections authorities.

D.C. police homicide investigators said that death appeared a suicide but that no official determination had been made. The case is still under investigation, they said.

Thomas, 29, was convicted of one count of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, at the end of a 14-week trial in U.S. District Court here.

A corrections department spokesman said Thomas was found hanging about 1:55 p.m. in a room in the locked ward at the hospital.

According to the spokesman, Thomas apparently was hanging by a pillow case from bars on a window in the room.

The spokesman said Thomas had been checked five minutes earlier by a corrections officer who reported seeing him sitting in the room, and smoking a cigarette.

Thomas had been sent to the hospital by court order and had been there since April 18, the corrections spokesman said. He said he did not know why the order was issued.

Thomas was accused of being part of a ring that used scores of fat women to obtain prescriptions for amphetamines that were then sold on the street to drug users.

The indictment in the case charged specifically that Thomas sold the drugs and that he had at least once visited a doctor himself to obtain a prescription for a drug that was to be unlawfully distributed.