A federal grand jury in Baltimore has indicted 21 current and former tenants, including a former employe, of a 286-unit housing project in Seat Pleasant, charging that they falsified income information in order to qualify for federal rent subsidies.

Charged with conspiracy to defraud the government of Section 8 subsidies during 1982 and 1983 are Carolyn Coleman, a former tenant and assistant residential manager of the Pleasant Homes apartment complex, Dorothy Colter and William Brent Palmer, both of the District, and Edna Wilson, a Pleasant Homes tenant.

"As a result of these allegedly falsified applications," said assistant U.S. attorney Wendy P. Arnell, "payments were made on behalf of the individuals to Pleasant Homes by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in amounts that exceeded the assistance, if any, to which these individuals were entitled."

Government sources told The Washington Post in November that such overpayments made by HUD at Pleasant Homes exceeded $200,000. About $50,000, these sources said, was paid in bribes and kickbacks to employes of Bethesda-based Edgewood Management Corp.

The firm manages Pleasant Homes and 7,000 units in nearly 40 developments across the country, including Frederick Douglass Garden Apartments and Washington Apartments in the District, and La Salle Park Apartments and Queenstown Apartments in Prince George's County.

Elliot Bernold, a former housing director of HUD's Washington area office and chief operating officer for the Edgewood Management Corp., said that Coleman left his employ more than two years ago after "we started questioning the paper work" on Section 8 applications.

Eviction proceedings have begun against Wilson, who still rents an apartment in the development, Bernold said. He said that Wilson's subsidy was terminated three or four months ago.

Neither Coleman nor Wilson could be reached for comment.

Hilton Green, the special agent in charge of the HUD inspector general's Washington field office, said troubles like those discovered at Pleasant Homes are not unique to this area.

"We are conducting investigations like this all over the country," he said.

Pleasant Homes, a complex of three-story brick buildings at Greig Street and George Palmer Highway, was reopened in 1981 after extensive renovations and was designed for low- and moderate-income families.

"This is an extremely well-run project and a fine example of what subsidized housing is supposed to be about," Bernold said. "The only thing people will remember now is that tenants were cheating."

Arnell and Green said that the investigation, which was initiated last June, is continuing.

None of the persons indicted this week have been arrested, Arnell said yesterday.

They include: Sheri Calhoun, 6804 Greig St.; Joanne Carter, 6604 Greig St.; Betty Crews, 6408 Greig St.; Andrica Day, 6804 Greig St.; Brenda Hilliard, 6608 Greig St.; Cathy Jackson, 6800 Greig St.; Angela Jenkins, 6420 Greig St.; Sheila Leigh, 6606 Greig St.; Janice Myers, 6610 Greig St.; Gregory Taylor, 6804 Greig St.; Cecil Young, 6420 Greig St.; Jacqueline Freeman, 1831 East Capitol St. SE; Roland Brooks, 1209 Staples St. NE; Gretchen Taylor, State Hwy. 202, Montrose, Va.; Ronald Green, 6406 Greig St.; Mary Perkins, 104 Galveston St. SW; and Arthur McCloud, of the District.

The charges in the indictments carry a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine, Arnell said.