A 25-year-old Northeast Washington man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to one count of false pretenses in connection with a scheme in which he filed false employment reports to collect more than $11,000 in payroll checks from Howard University.

The government said in court papers that Michael A. Smith of 1034 48th St. NE, while employed as a technician in the university's chemistry department, collected 23 paychecks during 1978 through false reports that said he worked in five different departments at the school's college of medicine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Spivack said Smith cashed the checks, which totaled $11,557, at a liquor store near the Howard campus.

Spivack said the scheme was uncovered by a Howard University auditor in December 1978. Federal prosecutors are continuing an investigation into payroll losses at Howard that totaled close to $40,000, Spivack said.

Smith pleaded guilty before Judge June L. Green to one count of false pretenses, a felony that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.

Because of his age, Smith is eligible for a lesser sentence under the terms of the federal Young Adult Offenders Act. Smith was released by the court on his personal recognizance pending sentencing in the case. crisis. The earlier suggestion, in a statement and background guidance