Robert Latta, the water meter reader from Denver who took an unscheduled one-man tour of the White House on the day the president took the oath of office, was arrested in Denver after he failed to appear for a court hearing in the District, authorities said yesterday.

Latta, 45, had been scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court Wednesday to face unlawful entry charges after a Jan. 20 incident in which he allegedly walked into the White House with a U.S. Marine band scheduled to perform at the swearing-in ceremony.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Judge Paul F. McArdle issued a bench warrant for Latta's arrest after he failed to appear at the hearing, and U.S. Capitol Police reported seeing him in the gallery of the U.S. Senate.

A Capitol Police spokesman said Latta reportedly said he was planning to make a speech on the Senate floor, but left the building after an officer " . . . told him the consequences of disturbing the Senate . . . . "

Latta apparently returned to Denver, and Marshal Charles Dunahue said he was arrested without incident there about 6 p.m. Thursday (8 p.m. EDT).

Dunahue said that during a hearing yesterday, a Denver magistrate offered to release Latta if he would agree to sign a $5,000 unsecured bond and live with his mother, but Latta refused. He was being held in Denver last night in lieu of $5,000 bond. A hearing is set May 7, Dunahue said.

Ed Ruetz, a spokesman for the Denver Board of Water Commissioners, where Latta works, said Latta was on 10 days leave starting Monday to attend the court hearing, but that he reported back to work Thursday morning.

"We were all surprised to see him back, but he didn't tell me why he was back so soon."