Among the scores of Georgians who arrived in 1977 to work among Washington's lobbyists, journalists, lawyers and political appointees in the fledgling Carter administration was a man named John Kennedy Robinson.

Personable and outgoing, Robinson presented himself as a "Georgia good ol' boy" who had easy access to the new White House crew. This, along with claims that he was a lawyer and a graduate of Harvard Business School, helped land him a job at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

With his wife Susan, Robinson settled in Alexandria, where he lived until he left the area in 1984.

Last week, Robinson, 51, returned to Alexandria, this time in the custody of Alexandria police, charged with homicide in the murder-for-hire slaying of city pediatrician Robert S. Rixse. Robinson is being held without bond in Alexandria's jail.

Rixse, 37, was gunned down on July 1, 1984, when he opened the front door of his Beverley Hills home in Alexandria while his three daughters slept upstairs.

Robinson, who was married to Rixse's ex-wife Diane at the time of the killing, has denied the charges, which carry a minimum life sentence and a maximum penalty of death. His attorney, Garland T. Byrd of Butler, Ga., has said previously that Robinson is "quite anxious to . . . confront these charges."

Byrd said Robinson would not comment on the information presented in this report.

Robinson, who is the son of a hardware store owner in Macon, Ga., where his younger brother Lee was recently elected mayor, is described by acquaintances as a gregarious person who is, among other things, a good boatsman, excellent cook, lover of gadgets and talented handyman.

"He has a big heart . . . . He would bend over backwards to help you," said one source. "He could take apart a computer and put it back together again," said another source.

But former colleagues in Washington and in Georgia also say Robinson had a darker side. While eager to undertake tasks, he was often short on delivery and quick to anger when challenged, they said. He also claimed many things they later discovered were not true, they said.

According to papers filed in Alexandria Circuit Court as part of the 1981 Rixse divorce proceedings, Robinson did not graduate from Harvard Business School and was not a member of the D.C. and Georgia bars, claims he made during testimony at the divorce.

Robinson also said he had graduated from Mercer University in Macon. A spokesman there said Robinson took courses, but did not graduate.

"John, as it turned out, was mostly veneer," said Atlantan Herbert Wiltsee, who hired Robinson in 1975 to work as a staffer on the Council of State Governments. "While he cheerfully agreed to undertake tasks, he . . . frequently didn't deliver at all." Wiltsee said he fired Robinson in 1976.

When confronted with discrepancies in his scholastic background, "part of {Robinson's} defense" was that he had worked for the CIA and that some of his past "had been somehow erased magically by the government," said Robert C. Bock, another former employer of Robinson's in Atlanta.

A CIA spokeswoman yesterday said the agency does not confirm or deny employment.

Shortly after being hired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in May 1977, Robinson became head of its resources and environmental quality division. But he became increasingly disliked by his fellow employes, some of whom said he stepped on others to advance himself and plagiarized their work.

"It's impossible for me to respond to {those claims}," Robinson's attorney Byrd said yesterday. "I have no idea what people are talking about . . . . I've heard him sometimes comment about some personnel problems. He had to take action against some people working under him up there; that could be the words of some subordinate he had to take action against."

Some of those who worked with him said they began to suspect that his connections with White House aides such as Hamilton Jordan and Stuart Eizenstadt were not that close. Eizenstadt said last week that he did not know Robinson. Jordan could not be reached.

"I never heard that rumor," Byrd said. " . . . He's been active on the Georgia political scene for 20 years. I don't know who he knew and who he didn't know."

In late 1979, Robinson left the Chamber.

Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Robinson divorced Susan, his second wife, and married Pamela DeFanti, a native of Camden, S.C.

DeFanti was active in the "Junior Friends of the Y," a fund-raising and support group for the Alexandria Community YMCA. In 1980, she worked closely on a committee with Diane (Mimi) Rixse, then wife of Robert Rixse, according to testimony in the Rixse divorce proceedings.

As a result of the two women's work relationship, Robinson met Diane Rixse in April. They began seeing "John, as it turned out, was mostly veneer. While he cheerfully agreed to undertake tasks, he . . . frequently didn't deliver at all."

-- Herbert Wiltsee

each other a month later, according to testimony in the divorce case.

When the Rixses divorced in 1981, Robert Rixse was awarded custody of his children. Diane Rixse married Robinson in 1982, shortly after his divorce from DeFanti became final.

The newly married couple moved into a house on Chalfont Drive, where Diane had lived with her previous husband and where Robinson set up his firm, United North American Companies Inc., described in a credit card application as an import/export company.

Shortly after Rixse was shot in 1984, the Robinsons and the Rixses' three children moved to Marietta, Ga., where Robinson was hired as director of government affairs for the Atlanta-based Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia.

"Somewhat to our embarrassment," said IIAG executive director Bock, Robinson was made general counsel to the group before it discovered Robinson was not a lawyer.

In 1986, Robinson was charged with felony theft for placing $7,350 of IIAG's funds into his own account, according to papers filed in Cobb County Superior Court. He pleaded guilty to that charge, was fined $1,000, paid $10,800 in restitution and was given probation under Georgia's first-offender statute, according to court papers. He also lost his job.

In May of this year, the Robinsons divorced. In August, Robinson was arrested on federal drug charges and jailed in Florida.

Soon afterward, Alexandria police obtained a copy of a letter allegedly handwritten by Robinson that purports to describe how Rixse's killing was planned and executed. The alleged account implicates several people, as well as Robinson. Police then filed homicide charges against Robinson.

The federal drug charges were dismissed early this month. A trial date for the homicide charges will be set next month. Police say their investigation of the Rixse slaying is continuing.

Staff writer Philip Smith contributed to this report.