A U.S. Virgin Islands judge put a new drug charge against Charles Lewis on hold yesterday to allow Lewis to seek treatment for cocaine dependence, a court official said.

Lewis, a central witness in the trial of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, was arrested early Saturday and charged with possession of a controlled substance. Police said Lewis was stopped by a St. Thomas police officer in a parking lot and arrested after the officer smelled crack cocaine.

At his hearing yesterday in Virgin Islands Territorial Court, Lewis asked a judge's permission to travel to St. Croix for a medical examination and then to Miami to enroll in a drug treatment program, a court official said. Judge Alfonso Christian approved both requests, the official said.

Lewis's latest case was postponed indefinitely.

In August, a federal judge in the Virgin Islands placed Lewis on probation for five years for a 1989 drug conviction there. A probation official in the Virgin Islands said yesterday that if Lewis is convicted on the new drug charge, he would face a probation hearing that could return him to prison for up to three years or more. The official said no action would be taken against Lewis until the pending drug charge is resolved.

Lewis has been convicted on cocaine charges twice, first in St. Thomas in April 1989, then in Washington seven months later. The first case was based on an FBI sting that was organized as part of the Barry investigation. The second case was based on Lewis's drug activity in Washington and his testimony before a grand jury here in January 1989.

As part of a plea bargain in the Washington case, Lewis agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, and he testified at Barry's trial that he and the mayor used cocaine on several occasions in Washington and in the Virgin Islands. Barry was convicted on one charge of cocaine possession and acquitted on another. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the eight counts involving Lewis, plus four other counts.

Lewis served 13 months in prison for his drug conviction here. He was released in June.

At Lewis's Virgin Islands trial last year, his attorney described him as a pitiful drug addict.