A captain in charge of recruiting for the Army's Arlington office pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of identity theft after admitting that he used the names and Social Security numbers of potential recruits and other soldiers to obtain credit cards and charge nearly $47,000 in debt to the unsuspecting victims.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria said Michael F. Kimble Sr., 34, of Woodbridge commanded several Army recruiting posts, most recently the station at 5500 Columbia Pike in Arlington.

He learned he was the target of a criminal investigation in February, court records show, and chose to plead guilty yesterday rather than wait for a grand jury indictment.

Kimble answered "Sir, yes sir," to a series of questions asked by Chief U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton and declined to comment after the hearing. Federal sentencing guidelines indicate Kimble faces a jail term of 10 to 21 months.

Army officials in Kimble's recruiting brigade did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A statement of the facts of the case, signed by Kimble and filed in court, indicated that Kimble used the addresses and Social Security numbers of two enlisted soldiers and four potential recruits.

In each instance, Kimble used a Parcel Plus store in Dale City to receive the bills, and at least two credit card companies rejected his applications because they suspected fraud.

One victim was an Army sergeant who once had worked under Kimble in the Falls Church recruiting office. Starting in August 2001, Kimble obtained a Capital One card, and quickly transferred $13,000 of existing debt.

Kimble then obtained five more credit cards in the sergeant's name, charging nearly $33,000 worth of purchases. Kimble also opened two bank accounts in the sergeant's name and used those to make small payments on the credit cards he had obtained.

Kimble also obtained credit cards in the names of three other people and was rejected when applying under the names of two more, according to the statement of facts. He charged about $440 on one of the cards and didn't use the other two.

The scheme lasted from August 2001 to February 2002. In February, a man who had visited the Arlington recruiting station while considering the Army contacted authorities about an account opened in his name at USAA Federal Savings Bank. USAA is available only to military personnel and their families, and the recruit suspected the information to open the account had come from his visit to Arlington.

One of the places the recruit called to find out what had happened was the Arlington station. According to court records, Kimble went to the Parcel Plus that day, closed his box and rented another. He reportedly told the store clerk to stop putting other people's mail in his box.

When a postal inspector asked Kimble about the recruit's complaint, Kimble replied that anyone in the recruiting office could have used the recruit's information or taken it off Kimble's computer screen, according to the statement of facts. In subsequent months, Kimble anonymously repaid all the debt, the statement says.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said in a statement that the credit histories of those whose identities were used "reflect credit cards they never authorized and debts that were not their own. The crime is all the more unscrupulous because the victims were serving, or inquiring about service to, the United States Army."