An FBI agent in the anti-obscenity unit in Northern Virginia was charged earlier this month with shoplifting from an upscale department store at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax County, according to court records and police.

About 1:20 p.m. Nov. 10, Agent Tracy Fortin, 44, was spotted by a loss-prevention officer at Lord & Taylor allegedly walking out of the store with an article of clothing valued at less than $200, according to Officer Bud Walker, a Fairfax County police spokesman.

Store security temporarily detained her and called police, who issued her a misdemeanor summons for petty larceny, Walker said.

"Ms. Fortin did identify herself as an agent with the FBI," Walker said, adding that he did not know if she was seeking leniency or merely being cooperative.

Walker declined to provide more specifics on the case, but other law enforcement authorities familiar with the incident said it involved a blouse.

Fortin is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 8. The charge carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. But first offenders in Fairfax typically receive a suspended sentence, according to lawyers.

Fortin is a veteran agent. Her husband also works for the FBI, in its Washington field office.

Fortin, who remains on the job, did not respond to messages left on her office voice mail yesterday and Monday.

The FBI Washington field office yesterday would not comment, nor would store security at Lord & Taylor.

Bill Carter, a spokesman for FBI headquarters, declined to comment on the case, but said: "Anytime an FBI employee is either accused of or involved in any type of impropriety, a full administrative inquiry would take place to determine the facts.

"And based on the results of that inquiry, appropriate administrative action would be taken."