The list of senators indicted while in office that accompanied the recent reports regarding Sen. David Durenberger (R-Minn.) {Federal Page, April 6} incorrectly stated that Sen. Burton K. Wheeler (D-Mont.) was indicted for activities "in the Teapot Dome scandal," which involved the unlawful sale of government oil leases by Albert Fall, secretary of the interior in the Harding administration. In fact, Sen. Wheeler's indictment and trial, although largely forgotten today, were front-page news at the time and represented the product of one of the most significant conspiracies to abuse official power in the nation's history.

Sen. Wheeler was one of a group of Western progressives and Democrats who conducted a series of some 16 congressional investigations in 1924 that exposed corruption -- including the Teapot Dome scandal -- in the Republican Harding administration. In March 1924 Sen. Wheeler led a special committee that held sensational Senate hearings regarding bribery and other corruption in Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty's Justice Department, which ultimately resulted in the indictment of Mr. Daugherty and others. The media spotlight on Sen. Wheeler led to his nomination later in 1924 as Sen. Robert LaFollette's vice-presidential running mate on the Progressive Party ticket.

Mr. Daugherty was fired by President Coolidge following the Wheeler hearings (ostensibly for failing to produce subpoenaed documents to the investigation), but shortly thereafter his loyalists at the Justice Department conspired to have Sen. Wheeler himself indicted for bribery in order to disrupt the Progressive campaign. The story of undercover agents, coded telegrams and secret meetings among Justice Department officials and Republican National Committee operatives rivals stories from more modern scandals.

Following the indictment, the Senate conducted an inquiry that exonerated Sen. Wheeler, and editorial comment, even in Republican papers, almost unanimously condemned the indictment. Sen. Wheeler had been accused of bribing an Interior Department official on behalf of a private law client. The evidence showed that it was the client himself who had offered the bribe, long after Sen. Wheeler's representation ended, and it turned out, while Sen. Wheeler was in Europe.

Sen. LaFollette and Sen. Wheeler received nearly 5 million votes in the 1924 election, the most of any third party candidate until 1968. Sen. Wheeler ultimately was tried in April 1925 and was acquitted by a jury that supposedly took only two votes -- one to eat dinner at the government's expense and one to acquit. Sen. Wheeler served in the Senate until 1940 (in 1937 he led the opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ill-fated "court-packing" plan, and he was a leading isolationist before World War II). He retired to practice law in Washington and died in 1975. JOSEPH L. BIANCULLI Washington