The House ethics committee yesterday recommended expulsion of Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), a 10-term Bronx lawmaker and former police officer who was convicted last September of accepting an illegal gratuity and obstructing justice.

Biaggi vowed to fight expulsion on the House floor and accused the committee of a "rush to judgment" in acting before his appeal in the criminal case had been heard.

If expelled, Biaggi, 70, once the most decorated member of the New York City police force, would be the fifth House member in history to be ousted and the second to be thrown out for official corruption.

Former representative Michael (Ozzie) Myers (D-Pa.) was expelled in 1980 as a result of a bribery conviction in the Abscam scandal. The only previous expulsions involved three border-state congressmen banished for treason for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War.

A two-thirds vote is required for expulsion by the House, which can also impose lesser penalities by majority vote.

The ethics committee, formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, headed by Rep. Julian C. Dixon (D-Calif.), chose expulsion over several less severe remedies imposed in other recent ethics cases, including censure, reprimand, fine and loss of seniority.

In doing so, the committee accepted the recommendation of staff counsel who found last year that Biaggi had "discredited the House of Representatives as an institution" and should be expelled.

At the time, Dixon said that Biaggi's lawyers had recommended a reprimand instead of expulsion. Biaggi reportedly pleaded to be allowed to keep his seat.

The committee's recommendation is now before the House and can be brought up at any time by Dixon, according to House officials. In its brief statement yesterday, the committee said a report on the case will be released as soon as copies are available from the Government Printing Office. The committee declined further comment.

Biaggi was convicted Sept. 22 in New York of accepting free vacations from former Brooklyn Democratic leader Meade Esposito in exchange for using his influence to help a ship-repair firm that was a major client of Esposito's insurance company. Biaggi was acquitted of more serious bribery and conspiracy charges. Esposito was convicted on charges of giving illegal gratuities to Biaggi.

Biaggi was sentenced Nov. 5 to 2 1/2 years in prison and fined $500,000. He has appealed his conviction, and aides said yesterday the appeal is expected to be heard by mid-March. He is free pending the appeal, but stopped voting in the House when he was convicted.

Biaggi also faces another trial next month on racketeering and bribery charges in a case involving Wedtech Corp., a former Bronx defense contractor.

In his statement, Biaggi said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the committee's action and declared, "The fight is far from over."

Noting that the recommendation came before his appeal was heard, he said, "The committee in its rush to judgment seems content to trample my due process rights as a member of Congress and as an individual."

Biaggi said he will "take {the} case directly to the floor of the House" and added: "I will ask my colleagues one straightforward question. If my appeal is successful but comes after action by the House that results in expulsion, how do I recoup the loss of my House seat?" He said he will appeal to his colleagues' "sense of fairness and justice" and urge no action until his appeal is completed.

Meanwhile, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) stepped up his campaign for an ethics investigation of House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and Majority Whip Tony Coelho (D-Calif.) by circulating a letter outlining possible alternatives to a probe by "the admittedly weak ethics committee." He suggested appointment of a select committee of House members or a panel of outside experts.