A U.S. judge imposed the maximum sentence of life imprisonment today on Edwin Gibbons, Moore II, a former CIA employee who was found guilty last month of attempting to sell classified documents to the Soviet Union.

District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman, however asked the Bureau of Prisons to evaluate the effects of different types and lengths of confinement on Moore's health and said he would reconsider the life sentence in three months.

Moore, 56, also will lose his $7,000 annual CIA pension as a result of the conviction.

The four-week espionage trial, which culminated in a guilty verdict May 5, was delayed several days in April when Moore's recurring heart transferred from the Baltimore City Jail to the Public Health Service Hospital.

Since the conviction, Moore has been confined at the city jail, but has been taken repeatedly to the hospital for further medication and testing.

Moore's wife, Maribel and their five children sat directly behind Moore today to hear the sentencing.

After listening for half hour to recommendations by the government and defense attorneys, Kaufman said the "severity of the offense" required him to impose the maximum sentence.

Government attorneys Thomas L. Growe and Daniel F. Goldstein had recommended a reduced sentence of between 15 and 20 years because of Moore's impaired health. "I think there may be other persons tempted to do what Moore did, but they may be less tempted if they think the act will not be treated as other than major offenses and will not go lightly punished," Kaufman said.

He noted that the life sentence may be reduced after the Bureau of Prisons evaluation and that the final penalty could be "anything between probation and the life sentence."

The law allows sentences to be reduced but not increased.

Moore, a Bethesda resident, who was employed for most of his adult life as an office worker for the CIA, pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to the espionage charges.

The jury of nine women and three men debated for more than five hours before returning the guilty verdict.

During the trial, Moore said a man named Joe, who claimed to be with the CIA, had asked his help with a secret project involving the Russians.

Joe told him to offer the secret CIA telephone directory and the other classified documents to the Soviet Union in exchange for $200,000, Moore said.

Moore said he tossed the packet with the secret documents and the demand note through a fence surrounding a Soviet residence on Tunlaw Road last Dec. 21.

The packet was intercepted by the FBI, which fabricated a packet to look like money and dropped it, as instructed by the note, in front of Moore's colonial brick home in an affluent section of Bethesda on Dec. 22. Moore was arrested when he picked up the packet.