The former owner of Linea Pitti, an expensive clothing store at the Georgetown Park Mall, was charged in an indictment unsealed in federal court yesterday with helping to launder $460,000 for the Rayful Edmond III drug organization from 1987 to 1989.

The 67-count indictment charges C&I Inc., doing business as Linea Pitti, a clothing store in the mall at Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW, and Charles L. Wynn Jr., 35, of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors say that Wynn sold clothes worth tens of thousands of dollars to Edmond and Tony Lewis, who were convicted of leading a large District drug operation, and that Wynn knew the money came from drugs.

Prosecutors also say that Wynn bought more than $200,000 in luxury automobiles, including several Mercedes-Benzes, for Edmond and Lewis, and had the cars registered in his name to conceal their true ownership; and that at one point Wynn placed Lewis on the store's payroll as a subterfuge to disguise Lewis's actual sources of income.

In a brief hearing late yesterday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dominguez told the court that Wynn knew that the money he was paid for Lewis's and Edmond's clothes was generated by illegal drug sales. They often paid in cash, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens said that the indictment is part of an investigation into the whereabouts of the profits generated by the Edmond drug organization, which at one time accounted for more street sales of cocaine and crack in the District than any other.

Edmond and his main partner, Lewis, were convicted of multiple drug and conspiracy charges in December 1989. Both are now serving life sentences.

The government lost its bid to bar Wynn from getting a court-appointed lawyer, which he had asked for on the grounds that he was too poor to pay for a lawyer of his own.

Dominguez told Robinson that Wynn still drives a Mercedes-Benz and rents a house with his parents in the well-to-do Hawthorne section of upper Northwest Washington for about $1,500 a month.

"The defendant is living a lifestyle that indicates he has access to sums of money that would place him in the upper-middle-class income bracket," Dominguez said. "The government objects to {his getting} a court-appointed attorney at taxpayer expense."

Wynn, who did not speak at the hearing, was represented yesterday by W. Gregory Spencer, of the federal Public Defender's Office. Wynn was held on $100,000 bond.

Robinson declined to hear government evidence on Wynn's financial status yesterday.

Instead the magistrate set a hearing for that purpose for Tuesday.

The indictment said Wynn and C&I altered, destroyed and withheld documents subpoenaed by grand juries.

Linea Pitti is now owned by Ihsan Dura, who said yesterday that he went into business with Wynn in 1987, and bought him out in 1989 or 1990.

Asked whether his business was a front for laundering drug profits, Dura said, "Not at all." He referred all other questions to his attorney, Thomas Abbenante.

Wynn, who, his lawyer said yesterday, has been unemployed for eight months, was described in the indictment as the manager of the store's daily retail operation, maintaining customer accounts for Edmond and Lewis.

Stephens said that Wynn was charged with money laundering, not just because Edmond and Lewis shopped there, but because prosecutors felt they could prove he knew exactly where the money came from. The investigation, he said, grew out of the original investigation of Edmond's organization.

He said his office was pursuing similar investigations, and called money laundering "the lifeblood of narcotics trafficking."

Court papers in the earlier Edmond case said that Lewis had been described as an assistant buyer for the store.

Expensive and stylish clothes were part of the culture of the Edmond gang, whose drug operation was centered in a working-class neighborhood around Orleans Place NE and nearby Morton Place.

During a search of Lewis's Arlington apartment, police found clothing with $6,000 price tags and 70 pairs of shoes, including a dozen that appeared never to have been worn.