The vice president of a large armored car company in charge of its surburban Maryland branch was arrested shortly before dawn yesterday as he was allegedly preparing to drive off with $1 million of the firm's cash and checks in the trunk of his company car.

Prince George's County police charged Ronald Joseph Doane, 43, a vice president of Federal Armored Express, Inc., with embezzlement and larceny after trust.

Doane, who ran the lives at Hawthorne St., Landover, was held yesterday on a $1 million surety bond.

Instrumental in Doane's capture was Richard John Reilly, an account representative with the firm at Riverdale and a former Prince George's policeman to whom Doane, his boss, allegedly turned for help in making a getaway.

Doane, according to Fred Aus, financial vice president of the Baltimore-based firm, is a former printer who went to work for the company 10 years ago as a truck driver and rose two years ago to branch vice president.

Official of the firm, described yesterday as the largest independent armored car company on the East Coast with offices in the Baltimore, Washington and Rithmond areas, were baffled yesterday by the alleged embezzlement.

They described Doane as a quiet family man loyal to the company who liked to go bowling for amusement.

"He was really a good company man," said James L. Dunbar, the firm's president. "He spent a lot of time doing his job. We just don't understand it. I'm still stunned.

"He was really a good company man," said James L.Dunar, the firm's president. "He spent a lot of time doing his job. We just don't understand it. I'm still stunned."

Dunbar noted that when Doane was seized, the car in which he allegedly planned to make his escape was a plainly marked company car. "It was like running up the flag . . ."

Reilly, who alerted police, could not be reached yesterday. He checked into an undisclosed hospital after he became ill while giving police a statement yesterday.

According to police, Doane had apparently taken Reilly into his confidence because he allegedly wanted him to assist him in his escape. Company president Dunbar described Reilly and Doane as "really good friends."

"From what Reilly said this morning." Dunbar said, "he didn't even know what Doane wanted him to do."

According to what Reilly told police, Doane allegedly worked late Saturday at the Riverdale office at 6401 Rhode Island Ave., along with another man. Doane allegedly told the other employee that he was going to inventory the vault and that the employee should go home, police said.

Doane then allegedly moved numerous bags and checks from the inner to the outer vault, then closed the inner vault, setting the time lock so it could not be opened until Tuesday. He then closed the outer vault and left, police allege.

Police allege that Doane returned on Sunday, opened the outer vault, and placed the money and checks into large plastic bags that he then put in the trunk of his white company-owned 1975 Ford Grand Torino. The car has company decals on its doors.

He then went to Reilly's Seabrook home at about 3 a.m. Monday, police allege, and asked Reilly to go with him. Reilly told police he said he'd have to go make arrangements to leave town and left Doane inside the house. Reilly then called police and Dunbar, the company president.

Det. Daniel Statkus, of the police investigate section in Hyattsville, met Reilly shortly thereafter at a 7-Eleven store in Hyattsville. Reilly, Statkus and other Officers went to the car, which was still parked in front of Reilly's house, and moved it to police headquarters without alerting Doane, who was still inside Reilly's house, police said.