Washington lobbyist Craig J. Spence, a shadowy central character in a summer sex scandal in Washington, was arrested last week in New York City along with a male prostitute and charged with possessing a gun and cocaine, Manhattan officials said. Police said Spence called them to his room in the Barbizon Hotel on the Upper East Side at 9 a.m. July 31. "We heard crashing," said Officer Lori Pollock. "This guy Craig Spence comes running out of the room screaming that the other guy has a gun. "We got the gun and it wasn't loaded. We determined that it belonged to Spence. There were drugs in the room also, cocaine and a crack pipe," Pollock said. Spence spent two days in jail before he was released on his own recognizance, according to a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. A former television correspondent who became a lobbyist before his business declined in recent years, Spence turned up on the front pages of newspapers this summer when he was identified as a major client of a homosexual escort service. The service is being investigated by D.C. police and the Secret Service for possible credit card fraud. The Secret Service also is interested in Spence's connection with a uniformed White House guard who has admitted accepting a Rolex watch from Spence and giving him a piece of White House china. The guard also allowed Spence and his friends to take midnight tours of public areas of the White House in 1988. The Secret Service said the tours were unauthorized but were not a security breach. Since the publicity began in June, Spence has kept a low profile. Secret Service agents have been looking for him, telling his friends that they have a subpoena for him. One friend in New York said she was told by the Secret Service last week that she should be careful in Spence's presence because he was acting in a bizarre fashion. The friend said she asked the Secret Service for protection, which it declined to provide. Later, the friend said, Spence showed up at her door, threatening to break it down. "He was irrational," she said. On Monday of this week Spence was interviewed in New York by the Washington Times, which first identified him as a customer of the escort service. The Times has said the case raised the possibility of "threats to national security from the blackmail of homosexuals in sensitive positions." In an article in today's editions, the Times said a suicidal and rambling Spence claimed he had bugged his apartment and bedded young military officers. However, the article does not say if Times reporters asked Spence about blackmail. "All this stuff you've uncovered," the Times quoted Spence as saying, "to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I've done. But I am not going to tell you these things, and somehow the world will carry on without knowing." Thus far federal authorities have found no evidence that any high-level government officials procured prostitutes through the service, sources said. The investigation is focused primarily on possible credit card fraud by Henry W. Vinson, the operator of the service. Spence's friends say he often boasted of being a CIA agent, of associating with high-ranking government officials, of bugging his friends and associates and of blackmailing people. "He wanted to play at being important," said W. Scott Thompson, once a friend of Spence's and a former U.S. Information Agency official. "You're dealing with shadows, a guy who created a persona." Spence is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 28. He is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a felony with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, and with drug possession, Pollock said. However, only the gun charge is listed on the computer records of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, according to spokeswoman Colleen Roche. The discrepancy could not be resolved last night. Pollock said the man with Spence was charged with drug possession. She said he is a 22-year-old male prostitute whom Spence had picked up on 42nd Street. Pollock said Spence had bragged to the hotel security guard and a greengrocer that he had a gun. "Spence claimed the kid had taken the gun and intimidated him and snatched $6,000 out of his hand," Pollock said. The grocer, Sung Kim, works at KHS Fruit & Grocery on Lexington Avenue, two doors away from the Barbizon, where Spence had stayed since July 19. Kim said he saw Spence and the other man that morning just before the arrest. Spence "was acting strange. I was watching him, so he said, 'I have a gun,' and I thought he just kidding me. I don't know why he was telling me. I thought maybe he was going to rob me."