Prince George's County prosecutors are investigating whether the owner of a dump truck that killed two high school girls in Riverdale last November operated a small-scale truck hauling business with vehicles constructed of parts from stolen or junked trucks.

The investigation could lead to manslaughter charges against the truck's owner if the owner knew the truck that killed the girls was defective, prosecutors have said. Prosecutors are trying to determine if the truck that killed the girls had been pieced together from stolen or junked vehicles.

At the time of the accident, the truck had not had a required safety inspection in three years.

Paine LeCount Bowman, 37, who had been an operator of B&B Enterprises at 55 Decatur St. NE, was confirmed as the owner of the truck by his attorney. A man who answered the phone at B&B Enterprises yesterday afternoon and identified himself as Bowman's brother said that Paine Bowman "no longer works for this company."

The accident last Nov. 17 occurred when a dump truck loaded with hot asphalt stalled at the top of a hill about 800 feet in front of a Toyota carrying three girls from Pallotti High School in Laurel. The truck rolled backward into the girls' car, smashing the vehicle into a tree and dumping its load of asphalt on top of it.

Gloria Graham and Jeanine Everhart, seniors at Pallotti, were killed. A third girl, Lisa Beavers, was critically injured.

The girls' families filed a $240 million lawsuit yesterday against B&B Enterprises and several companies involved in a construction project to which the truck was traveling when the fatal accident occurred.

The truck was a "tractor converted into a dump truck," the lawsuit said. "It is a gypsy truck," said Timothy F. Maloney, one of the attorneys for the Graham family. "It was pieced together through fragments of other trucks, pieced together with chicken wire."

Last week, Paine Bowman appeared in Prince George's District Court on a six-year-old charge of stealing a $23,000 Diamond Reo dump truck.

Police said Bowman had placed the stolen vehicle's rear end on the cab of another truck.

Assistant State's Attorney Andrew Murray, the prosecutor in District Court last week, dropped the stolen truck case.

But Murray told Judge Theresa A. Nolan that Bowman "is under investigation for possible grand jury action."

Richard Sothoron, Bowman's attorney, said that last week's court hearing was the first time Bowman had heard about a grand jury investigation.

The truck involved in the Riverdale accident was leased from B&B Enterprises by Oscar A. Jenkins, who operates a trucking company in Capitol Heights. Jenkins, who also was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said yesterday that he did not know much about the Bowmans' company.

"I don't know anything about B&B," Jenkins said. "I hired their trucks from day to day, but not every day. I think it has been around about two years. The company is small, I know that."

The lawsuit said that Jenkins leased the truck to pick up a load of hot asphalt from Arundel Asphalt Products Inc. in Forestville to deliver to a site in New Carrollton where the Coastal Asphalt Co. of Northeast Washington was laying blacktop in a park construction project. Arundel allowed the truck to be overloaded with asphalt by more than 18,000 pounds, the lawsuit said.

Employes at Arundel Asphalt Products and Coastal Asphalt Co. did not inspect the truck for safety defects, the suit said, and the companies did not ensure that the truck's driver, Arthur Hicks of Northwest Washington, was a licensed driver. Neither Jenkins nor Bowman checked Hicks' driving record or the truck's safety equipment, the suit said.

After the accident, Riverdale police said that Hicks was driving on a suspended D.C. driver's license. The Riverdale police chief said the truck was in such bad condition that it should not have been on the road.

All of the companies involved in the construction project, including Ray Sears & Sons Inc. of Gambrills, Md., were named as defendants in the lawsuit.

A woman who answered the telephone at Coastal Asphalt, but who would not identify herself, said the accident "was a shame" but declined to comment about the lawsuit. "We had ordered our trucks through Oscar {Jenkins}," she said. "We did not know anything about a problem with trucks."

A manager at Ray Sears & Sons said she could not comment about the lawsuit because she had not seen it. Arundel Asphalt Products did not return a phone call.

Assistant State's Attorney Roger Milstead, who is leading the investigation into the Riverdale accident, said yesterday that the probe was continuing and his office had not yet determined whether anyone might be criminally liable for the accident.