A Maryland doctor was arrested in his District of Columbia office yesterday for distributing a drug he allegedly claimed offers a cure for cancer but which has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The arrest of Dr. Hellfried E. Sartori, 43, of Rockville by postal inspectors followed his secret indictment May 25 by a federal grand jury in Baltimore on charges of mail fraud, making a false statement and distributing the industrial chemical cesium chloride to three cancer patients with intent to defraud and mislead.

According to the indictment, Sartori dispensed the drug to three patients at his Rockville office at 4808 Macon Rd. in June and July of 1981. Two have since died. The third paid more than $2,000 to Sartori and was allegedly assured by him of Medicare reimbursement, which was denied.

The charges of mail fraud stem from Medicare forms that were mailed from Sartori's office to six patients. The false statement charge arose from Sartori's alleged promise of Medicare reimbursement.

If convicted, Sartori could be sentenced to up to three years in prison plus a maximum fine of $10,000 on each of the three distribution counts, up to five years and $1,000 for each of the six mail fraud counts and up to five years and $10,000 for the false statement charge.

The Maryland Commission on Medical Discipline has initiated license revocation proceedings against Sartori and had held hearings on his medical practice in February. That case still is pending, said assistant U.S. attorney Glenda Gordon.

Indictments of mail fraud also were returned against John Stauch, 61, of Oxon Hill, an associate of Sartori's at two Rockville health centers.

Stauch, of 12300 Loch Karron Cir., was indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore Tuesday of devising a scheme to defraud people who sent him hair samples for analysis, Gordon said. The analysis was used as a method to promote sales of vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements, she said.

Five counts of mail fraud were prompted by ads in the Jewish Week newspaper for Stauch's Rockville Holistic Health Center, the indictment stated. Five counts each were imposed for ads running in Prevention magazine and Let's Live magazine for ANA Labs, a firm that used Stauch's hair analysis, Gordon said.

Stauch could not be reached for comment.