A judge here placed Community Savings & Loan Association in state receivership today, a necessary step toward the proposed sale of the crippled thrift to the Mellon Bank Corp. of Pennsylvania.

The action, approved by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan, permits the Maryland Deposit Insurance Fund, the state agency overseeing Community's affairs, to liquidate the thrift's assets.

The move halts the accrual of interest on accounts belonging to 30,000 depositors. The accounts have been frozen since the Bethesda-based thrift was declared insolvent and placed in state conservatorship Sept. 5.

H. Robert Erwin Jr., a lawyer for the Maryland Savings and Loan Depositors Committee, urged Kaplan to delay placing Community into receivership until early May, just before the planned takeover by Mellon is scheduled to occur. By putting Community into receivership now, he said, the state, "under the guise of some form of technical legal mumbo jumbo," is depriving depositors of $1.5 million in interest they would have earned in the month leading up to the sale.

But Kaplan noted that Community's six-month conservatorship had already been extended one month to prevent the thrift from going into receivership while the state was negotiating a sales agreement with Mellon.

"I don't think it is asking the depositors of Community to sacrifice so much," said Kaplan, "when they're getting the privilege, really, of having the state bail them out to the tune of $131 million of taxpayers' money. To say 'give us interest to the last moment' is a bit much."

Under the sale agreement with Mellon, the state would pay the Pittsburgh-based company $131 million to take over Community, and Maryland taxpayers would be relieved of Community's financial liabilities.

The state also has pledged $60 million as security to Mellon for future losses in the Community transaction. The sale will provide the Mellon Bank Corp., one of the nation's largest bank holding companies, entry into the Maryland banking marketplace.

Federal and state banking authorities would have to approve Mellon's application to take over Community.

Community's failure was caused by the collapse of its $1.4 billion real estate syndication group, known as EPIC. At today's hearing, Kaplan also gave MDIF authority to dissolve a holding company called Community Financial Services Inc. and to turn over stock in its subsidiary companies, including EPIC, to Community.