There were few at Georgetown Park Mall who would admit, at first, that they knew about the sad state of affairs at Linea Pitti, the chichi boutique where prosecutors say fashion-conscious drug dealers spent their profits.

Then the whispers took over.

"It's not something that we were aware of. Certainly not something that was done in the open," said one jewelry store manager, while slipping onto his counter a three-day old newspaper account of a 67-count federal indictment against the store and its former owner.

"But," said the manager, who declined to give his name, "I guess you can never tell who your neighbors are."

The indictment released last week charges C&I Inc., doing business as Linea Pitti, and Charles L. Wynn, a former owner, with helping to launder $460,000 for the Rayful Edmond III drug gang from 1987 to 1989. Prosecutors allege that Wynn sold clothes worth tens of thousands of dollars to Edmond and Tony Lewis, both convicted of dealing in drugs here, and that Wynn knew their money was from drugs.

The current owner, Ihsan Dura, is not charged in the indictment. Dura has said he was in business with Wynn in 1987, bought him out in 1989 or 1990 and has no connection to money laundering.

Dura's attorney, Thomas Abbenante, said his client's store has suffered because of the publicity and, with tough economic times, could close. "People don't want to shop there because people will think they're drug dealers," he said.

Linea Pitti first surfaced in news accounts involving Edmond and Lewis in early 1989. Lewis was identified in court papers as an assistant buyer for Linea Pitti, which then was described as "the site of numerous buying sprees by members of the {Edmond} network."

Prosecutors now say that Lewis was placed on the store's payroll by Wynn to disguise Lewis's actual sources of income. Wynn also bought more than $200,000 in luxury cars for Edmond and Lewis and registered the cars in his name to hide the true ownership.

Yesterday, managers and owners in the stylish indoor shopping mall expressed some indignation over the latest news. Their consensus was quick: Business has been bad enough. Now this.

"Honest to God, I didn't think this was this kind of location," said Jennifer Forbes, director of Georgetown Fine Art. "We get people from all over the world. Quality people."

Roxana Suaznabar, manager of Descamps, a home furnishing store, is down the hall from Linea Pitti. She, like most managers, said yesterday she knew little about the legal problems facing Linea Pitti. But she had lots of concerns.

"It's too bad because it was a beautiful store," she said. "But it just shows you. They {the police} should check every store for this kind of thing. There's a lot of weird people who come through Georgetown."

Eduardo Depandi competes for the Linea Pitti clientele. But, waiting for business in his namesake store Eduardo's yesterday, Depandi could not take any pleasure in his neighbor's plight.

"I have had customers who come in and say they're shocked. I feel sorry for the new owner. He's a nice person, a hard worker. Poor guy."