George R. Hardy, a 25-year D.C. police officer, has admitted that he accepted a $5,000 bribe and is cooperating with authorities investigating corruption in the department's vending unit.

Hardy, 46, of Clinton, secretly pleaded guilty last month before U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan to one charge of receipt of a bribe, a proceeding that U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. made public yesterday.

So far, the investigation of the vending unit by the D.C. police department's office of internal affairs has resulted in the arrests of Hardy and another officer, David W. Brooks, 48. A vendor, Jeannie Do Nguyen, 37, of Fairfax, has been indicted for her alleged role as paid intermediary between officers and vendors.

Department officials disbanded the unit after the arrests, reassigning its six officers. Other officers, however, are handling the unit's duties, which include enforcement of the District's vending regulations. Under those rules, licensed vendors can place their carts anywhere in the city on a first-come, first-served basis.

No sentencing date has been set for Hardy, who faces up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. He has been on leave with pay since his arrest.

Court records reveal that investigators began their probe of the vending unit after a hot dog vendor complained that he and others had to pay off police officers to do business in the District.

During a hearing on Aug. 11, Hardy admitted that he accepted a $5,000 bribe on March 10 in exchange for allowing the hot dog vendor, who has been working undercover with internal affairs investigators, to do business in the George Washington University area. Hardy also admitted that he agreed to ticket other vendors around GWU until they left.

Court documents say that police secretly recorded the transaction on audiotape and videotape.

Do acted as a go-between, court records say, approaching the hot dog vendor after he was ticketed by Hardy and another officer to determine whether he was willing to pay for a vending spot.

She then told the hot dog vendor that she had talked to Hardy and that the officer was willing "to get rid of" other vendors in the GWU area by repeatedly ticketing them, according to court records.

Do also allegedly took the hot dog vendor to the 1st District station at 415 Fourth St. SW, where the vending unit is located. They met with Hardy, and the hot dog vendor handed over the $5,000, authorities say. Do allegedly was paid $1,000 for her efforts.