Two Anne Arundel County detectives charged with stealing $1,000 during a drug raid last Jan. 4 argued in the county's Circuit Court yesterday that they pocketed the money only to check serial numbers. Their only object in entering a hotel room near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, they said, was to break up a major cocaine deal.

When they raided an adjoining hotel room and were greeted by state troopers brandishing badges and handguns and surrounded by video equipment, the officers said, they realized the drug deal was a sting operation set up by Maryland State Police.

Detective James Goddard and Sgt. John Mosley III were charged with breaking and entering, theft, conspiracy and misconduct in office. If convicted, they could receive up to 58 years in prison.

Mosley, 38, head of the major offenders unit of the county police narcotics division for the last five years, said he went with five men to the International Hotel at BWI after an informant told one of his men of a major cocaine deal. He said the hotel manager let the officers use a room adjacent to one booked by the suspect. Mosley and another officer then met the informant in the hotel restaurant.

Later, the informant met the suspect in the restaurant and, while other officers watched those two talking, Mosley and Goddard entered the suspect's empty room with a hotel key. They found a briefcase loaded with about four pounds of what they thought was cocaine and a stack of $100 bills.

Mosley testified that he planned to seize all drugs and weapons he found but changed his mind when he saw the large amount of drugs. He ordered Goddard to take just $1,000, so he could check the serial numbers, he said. He said Goddard asked "$500 each?" when told to count out the money, but, said Mosley, Goddard was only joking.

Mosley said he then returned to his room and called police headquarters and the Drug Enforcement Agency in Baltimore to check the serial numbers in the hope of getting more information about the dealer -- a fact confirmed earlier in the trial by a police clerk and DEA agent.

When the drug suspect and the informant returned to the hotel room, the detectives entered the room disguised as room service waiters and arrested the pair. Mosley had learned earlier that the adjoining room had been rented by the suspect as well, and decided to raid it too.

Maryland Assistant Attorney General Dale P. Kelberman, who is prosecuting the case, argued earlier that Mosley called in the numbers only when he suspected he might be the victim of a sting operation. Kelberman noted that Mosley did not obtain a search warrant to enter the room and did not tell his subordinates that he had taken the $1,000.

But Mosley testified he did not believe he needed a search warrant. "I felt a felony was being committed around my presence, and I just felt I had to do my duty as a police officer, which I did," he said. He agreed he did not tell other officers he had taken the money, but said: "It's not customary for me to tell my subordinates everything I do."

Goddard, 26, told the same story when he took the stand. "I still don't see what was wrong about going in that room," he said.

The trial is expected to conclude tomorrow or Thursday.