An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms yesterday pleaded guilty in federal district court in Alexandria to a charge of converting government property to his personal use.

Billy Ray Lanier, 48, head of the Protective Programs and Services branch at the BATF Washington headquarters admitted that he used a Polaroid camera belonging to the government for personal use. He will be sentenced Aug. 7, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Lanier, who is paid $41,700 a year to supervise supply procurement and building security at BATF headquarters, was accused by a BATF employe of using his position to obtain government-owned equipment and furniture.

In an April 21 search of Lanier's home, BAFT agents confiscated some 46 items -- ranging from a sewer snake to couches, lamps, bookcases typewriters and a Polaroid camera.

Lanier dismissed the allegations as a "big misunderstanding" that resulted from "a little love triangle" involving an employe. Claudia Hunnicut, an employe in his office, was Lanier's principal accuser, according to court records. She said that she had had an affair with Lanier and provided investigators with a 19-page affidavit which said she was willing to be a witness in the case.

During the search, agents confiscated two General Services Administration credit cards generally used by officials for equipment pruchases and one government gasoline credit card, court records show. There was no indication in the court documents that Lanier had misused the cards.

Court documents indicate that agents also investigated Lanier's use of BATF purchase orders for items for his personal use, including gasoline, car repairs, an expensive door lock and two dozen picture frames valued at about $600.

After the search, Lanier was placed on five-day administrative leave. He was later placed on indefinite leave.

Lanier could not be reached for comment yesterday.