Richard E. Rapps, former secretary of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has been charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing more than $415,000 in municipal bonds from a man who claims to have given the bonds to Rapps in an effort to hide them from his wife.

Rapps, 43, a lawyer who two years ago received $96,000 from the federal government in an out-of-court settlement after claiming he was wrongfully fired from his high-ranking CPSC post in 1978, was freed last week on $5,000 bond in Fairfax County.

Rapps was arrested in Fairfax as a fugitive from authorities in the District of Columbia, where the theft charge is pending. He is scheduled to appear at an extradition hearing in Fairfax on Feb. 11, according to Rapps' attorney, Thomas Guidoboni.

The charge against Rapps is outlined in an arrest warrant issued by D.C. police Jan. 11. According to a police affidavit attached to the warrant, Rapps is wanted for stealing more than $415,000 in municipal bonds from William Bonsib, a lobbyist and public relations consultant.

According to the affidavit, Bonsib hired Rapps to keep the bonds because Bonsib was involved in divorce proceedings with his wife and didn't want her to know about them.

Guidoboni said his client denies any wrongdoing and "welcomes the opportunity to confront the complaining witness under oath in a public hearing." Guidoboni declined further comment. Rapps could not be reached for comment.

Bonsib said in an interview earlier this week that he gave Rapps the bonds with the understanding that he would have regular access to them in order to collect on monthly interest coupons attached to the bonds.

Bonsib said the bonds were placed in a safe deposit box in a Washington bank. When he attempted to have the box opened to collect the coupons last November, he said, he was unsuccessful in reaching Rapps.

Police subsequently took out a search warrant to investigate the box. Authorities said they found no bonds inside, but instead documents relating to Rapps' government employment and his suit against the CPSC. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas C. Hill, who is handling the case, said none of the bonds has been recovered.

Bosib said the return of the bonds outweighs his plans to keep them secret from his wife. "It's blown now," he said. "The hell with the divorce."