Everybody knows there's no such thing as a free brunch. Well, almost everybody knows. Some 101 glaring exceptions showed up at the Washington Convention Center Sunday morning to do what Washingtonians do best: hail the Redskins and mingle with other canape-and- freebie snatchers. From the looks of the invitation, it's a wonder that another 100 finagling members of Congress, lobbyists, publicists and media groupies didn't turn up as well -- guests of Operation Flagship, the elaborate sting pulled off by U.S marshals and the police.

The guests who did come, as we all know now, arrived in full home-game regalia for what they thought would be a gala party, two tickets to the Redskins game and a drawing for 1986 season tickets and a one-week, all-expenses-pad trip to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans. But the big surprise was that 28 marshals and police officers arrested them. The arrested included 101 fugitives wanted in connection with more than 170 outstanding criminal arrest warrants in this area. These persons were responsible, as Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. noted, "for a large percentage of the criminal offenses in our communities." Their arrest, he said, "will no doubt have an impact on our daily crime rate."

That remains to be seen, but let us hope so. It is important to note here that these party guests were not entrapped into committing any crime. They were merely inveigled into making themselves available to law officers looking for them on the basis of the following: 15 warrants for assault, five for robbery, six for burglary, four for escape, 19 for bond default or bail violation, 18 for narcotics violations, 59 for probation or parole violation and 41 for a variety of charges from rape to arson to forgery. Some party.

It was reportedly the brainchild of Toby Roche, chief deputy U.S. marshal at the U.S. District Court in Washington. Also credited for directing the bash is Robert Leschorn, senior inspector of the Marshal Services Enforcement Operations Division. Maybe the guests didn't have a good time -- but more than a few can count on doing some.