The owner of an eviction service company pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to paying off an undercover deputy U.S. marshal in return for the deputy's assistance in arranging for court-ordered evictions of tenants.

The plea by Wilson Fisher, 42, of the 500 block of 55th Street SE, stems from a year-long investigation by the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI into the city's eviction scheduling process.

The marshal's office in Washington is responsible for serving court-ordered eviction notices, safeguarding tenants' property and maintaining order. The office carries out only about 15 or so of the 75 eviction notices issued daily by the D.C. Superior Court because of limited manpower, sources said. Eviction services are dependent on the marshal's first-come, first-served schedule for permission to carry out their work.

Under a plea agreement filed in court, Fisher pleaded guilty to one count of paying illegal gratuities to a federal employe. Prosecutors said in court that Fisher paid $145 for preferential treatment. The charge carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

A federal grand jury investigation is focusing on a small number of deputies in the U.S. marshal's office here and only a few of the city's eviction companies, according to law enforcement sources.