BALTIMORE, NOV. 24 -- A federal judge has found Martin Marietta Corp., the Bethesda aerospace giant, in contempt of court for refusing to furnish documents to a former employe preparing for trial for his alleged part in a travel rebate scheme to which the company has pleaded guilty.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Young issued the contempt order -- including a $1,000-a-day fine -- against the mammoth government defense contractor on Nov. 16, then placed the order and related documents under seal and out of public view, apparently at Martin Marietta's request.

The Washington Post learned of the contempt citation before the seal order was filed in federal court and from papers filed in the case subsequent to the seal order.

Attorneys for Martin Marietta and the former employe, William C. Pollard of Potomac, declined to discuss how the contempt action arose, citing Young's seal order.

Other lawyers familiar with trial strategy, however, said that business firms resisting an order to furnish documents often invite a contempt citation as a means of appeal because the documents order generally cannot be appealed under federal court procedure.

Martin Marietta pleaded guilty Feb. 17 to a fraudulent scheme in which it kept $1.3 million in travel agency rebates that it was supposed to pass on to the U.S. government in connection with defense contract travel by Martin Marietta employes.

The company, which reported $2.9 billion in defense contract business last year, was fined $12,000 and ordered to pay $250,000 to cover the cost of the government's two-year investigation into the case.

A month later, Martin Marietta made an administrative settlement with the Defense Logistics Agency to pay $3.1 million stemming from the alleged scheme.

Pollard, former head of Martin Marietta's corporate travel subsidiary, was indicted in April on conspiracy and fraud charges in the case, the only Martin Marietta employe charged.

Pollard's attorneys sought to subpoena extensive records from Martin Marietta, including internal audit sheets and tape recordings and transcripts of interviews of other Martin Marietta employes being questioned by company attorneys in preparation for the 1986 federal grand jury investigating the firm's travel rebate and reimbursement practices. Pollard contended that these documents would help clear him of criminal charges.

Martin Marietta resisted the subpoena, claiming that the documents were internal work papers and that disclosure would breach attorney-client confidentiality.

After examining the documents privately, Judge Young ordered Martin Marietta to furnish most of them to Pollard. The company refused, and Young issued his contempt citation Nov. 16.

Martin Marietta appealed the citation to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. During the appeal, which could take several months, the $1,000-a-day fine continues.

Pollard's trial has been postponed pending the appeal.

Lawyers for The Washington Post today filed a motion to intervene in the case, asking Young to rescind his order sealing the contempt action and related proceedings. It was not known immediately what if any action the judge will take.

Pollard's attorneys, James S. Maxwell and Robert H. Bear of Washington, have contended in court papers not subject to Young's seal that the documents Martin Marietta has withheld will show that "high-level corporate mismanagement" is the root cause of problems with the company's travel rebate practices and that Pollard is being offered as a low-level "sacrificial lamb and scapegoat."

The attorneys noted that Maryland U.S. Attorney Breckinridge L. Willcox declared in a press release at the time of Martin Marietta's guilty plea in February that a "series of Martin Marietta executives" knew about aspects of the alleged scheme and that "senior management" either "had reason to question certain activities, or failed to supervise {them}, or both."