The chief scientist and an assistant at the Institute for Behavioral Research were formally charged yesterday with 15 counts of animal cruelty involving the research monkeys seized in a Silver Spring police raid two weeks ago.

Scientist Edward Taub of Adelphi and lab assistant John Kunz of Wheaton turned themselves in at the Silver Spring police station at 9 a.m. yesterday and were released on personal recognizance bonds, according to documents filed in the case.

A hearing on the charges has been set for Oct. 27. Under Maryland law, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Police, who raided the laboratory Sept. 11 and seized 17 research monkeys, alleged in their complaint that Taub and Kunz "inflicted unnecessary suffering or pain" upon the animals or failed to provide them with nutritious food, proper shelter or veterinary care.

Taub, leaving the police station with his attorney after his bond hearing, said, "I deny the charges absolutely."

Police called in several animal experts to examine the monkeys after the raid, which was spurred by allegations of mistreatment reported to the police by lab volunteer Alex Pacheco, head of an animal rights group.

After the raid, the 17 monkeys were turned over to members of Pacheco's group for safekeeping, but disappeared last week. They were returned Saturday to the Rockville home from which they were taken.

A hearing was scheduled for today in Montgomery County Circuit Court to determine who will have custody of the monkeys until the criminal case is completed.