The chief of the Prince George's County park system was indicted yesterday for allegedly stealing about $30,000 from his department in a contract swindle, then taking money from another county contractor as part of a plan to cover up the theft.

Hugh B. "Reds" Robey, director of parks and recreation for the Prince George's arm of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, was indicted on charges of theft, bribery and misconduct in office. The investigation of commission contracting practices began two years ago, prosecutors said.

Robey, who oversees a $100 million budget, joined with four other commission employees, including his son, Michael, to steal $29,232 from the agency by awarding a contract in 1988 for a greenhouse project that was never undertaken, according to law enforcement sources and the indictment issued yesterday. The contractor then allegedly gave most of the money to the Robeys.

After investigators began looking into the alleged swindle, Robey, a 40-year employee of the commission whose retirement has long been scheduled for today, tried to cover it up, the indictment said.

According to the indictment, Robey took $30,000 from an asphalt company that does business with the park commission and gave the money to the company that had been awarded the greenhouse contract. He allegedly instructed the company with the greenhouse contract to reimburse the commission $29,232, and claim that the payment received in 1988 had been collected by mistake.

Indicted with Robey were Albert J. Simons, chief of the commission's maintenance division; Junia E. Dailey, owner of Dailey's Painting and Home Improvements, which received the allegedly phony 1988 contract; Michael Robey, a welder for the commission; and Richard G. Coleman, an official of B&C Paving, an asphalt contractor that has done about $3.7 million in business with the commission since 1986.

None of those indicted could be located for comment. Officials said some of those charged have agreed to surrender today to Maryland State Police.

Louis R. Steele, who is Simons's assistant at the commission, and Gary L. Perrygo, a former employee and Simons's predecessor as maintenance director, were named by the grand jury as unindicted co-conspirators.

The park and planning commission supervises the parks and recreation systems in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and oversees planning for development projects in Prince George's.

Hugh Robey was charged with one count of felony theft and two counts each of bribery, conspiracy and misconduct in office. Officials said the offenses are punishable by up to 66 years in prison and fines totaling $17,000. The others were charged with similar offenses.

According to sources, Dailey's company in 1988 allegedly was given a contract to build a greenhouse on commission property. But the greenhouse was never built. Dailey's company allegedly took "a commission" for acting as "a conduit" in the scheme, then passed along most of the $29,232 to Michael Robey, through his welding company, G&M Hi-Tech Metal Specialty Inc., sources said.

Hugh Robey, whose $94,883 job also entails supervising the Maryland Park Police in Prince George's, became aware that the contract was being looked into by Park Police, according to the indictments.

On Sept 29, Robey took a $30,000 bribe from Coleman, the asphalt contractor, "for the purpose of influencing {Robey} in the performance of his official duties," the indictment said. It was not clear from the indictment what Robey allegedly did in return for the bribe.

But he then allegedly gave the money to Dailey. He instructed Dailey to repay the commission for the 1988 contract, and "to falsely claim that he had billed {the commission} in error," the indictment said.

Andrea Davey, a commission spokeswoman, said the indictments were an outgrowth of an internal audit conducted by the commission that led to 1988 charges against three former commission employees in a bribery-kickback scheme. Darius Vizzi, a former purchasing agent for the commission, was charged with taking a $5,100 bribe for allegedly steering a contract to a construction firm to build a pedestrian mall in Upper Marlboro.

County Executive Parris N. Glendening said he was informed several days ago by Roy Dabney, vice chairman of the county Planning Board, that "something of this nature was likely to occur." On Wednesday, Dabney announced that he had accepted Robey's resignation and that Robey's duties would be taken over by Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Mary Godfrey until a permanent replacement is found.

"If it is true, then it is absolutely unacceptable for the county, and something that cannot be tolerated," Glendening said of the charges.

Jo Ann T. Bell, chairman of the Prince George's County Council, said she was "absolutely astounded and shocked" by the indictment of Robey, a longtime friend. "I lobbied Reds Robey when my kids were little to get a park. He was the kind of man who would come out personally and walk off the footage. He was the kind of boss who, when his crews were sick, would go to the hospital with flowers."

Robey joined the commission in 1950 and worked his way up from a truck driver's job to head of the county's 16,000-acre park system.

With his appointment as park director in 1976, he gained vast influence over the agency's capital improvement budget and was considered a driving force behind projects such as the equestrian center in Upper Marlboro.

Staff writer Eugene Meyer contributed to this report.