A 41-year-old District man was convicted in federal court yesterday of three counts of defrauding the government of more than $16,000, including more than $5,000 worth of food stamps.

Milton L. Perry, who court records show earns nearly $25,000 a year working in the city's department of employment services, pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally obtained $5,330 from the food stamp program, $4,977 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and $6,362 from the Veterans Administration under "false and fraudulent pretenses" over a six-year period beginning in November, 1974.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office said Perry's conviction was the first in connection with food-stamp fraud in the District since Attorney General William French Smith announced formation of a special task force -- operated jointly by the Agriculture Department, the FBI, the Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney's office -- to investigate abuse of the food-stamp program last November.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Joseph Valder said the indictment accused Perry of cheating the government beginning Nov. 11, 1974, when he applied to the Veterans Administration for an increase in his disability pension on the ground that his ex-wife had returned to live with him and that he was responsible for her support. Valder said Perry's ex-wife never did return to resume her life with Perry.

Valder told the court that Perry subsequently applied for and received a federal rent subsidy and food stamps by under-reporting his income.

According to information submitted by Valder to the court, Perry falsely said a son attended the University of the District of Columbia, and that Perry had a monthly income of $466. Valder said Perry's son has never been enrolled in any college and that Perry earns more than $2,200 each month.

Perry faces a maximum of five years in prison and a total of $21,000 in fines, Valder said. Perry is due to appear for sentencing in September.