No one had to tell Ron Gabioud of Albuquerque to write a letter to his congressman about the savings and loan scandal. Gabioud, 39, was so steamed when he sat down at his typewriter in July that he didn't need any lobbyist or organization to push him.

"Who is responsible for this situation?" Gabioud demanded in his letter to Rep. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.). "I, as a taxpayer, am tired of being robbed by quick-witted Wall Street types and their congressional lackeys! What are you doing to address these issues?"

Gabioud is one of thousands of Americans who have bombarded their congressional representatives with mail on the S&L crisis over the past year. As might be expected, they are angry -- at the S&L executives who got rich, at the prosecutors for not prosecuting harder, at Congress for deregulating the industry in the first place, at the prospect of paying billions of dollars to clean up the mess.

And, as might be expected, all this anger makes some incumbents more anxious than usual as Election Day draws near. Whether the letters will translate into voter backlash at the polls for incumbents next month is unclear. Incumbent members of Congress generally have no trouble getting reelected. But Richardson, for one, has noticed a level of intensity about the S&L issue that he finds surprising.

On a recent campaign swing through the huge district that he represents in northern and western New Mexico, Richardson said, "I got some catcalls and hisses. People weren't as warm. I could see it in their body movements."

The S&L letter writers are anything but warm, as a review of more than 200 letters shows. They are snide, accusatory and vengeful. They're sick of delays, appalled at the cost, convinced that the guilty will get away and that Congress will do nothing to stop them.

As Alexander P. Stefanisin of Rotonda West, Fla., wrote to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.): "When are the taxpayers going to stop being the scapegoats for mistakes in Washington?"

The mail has not reached the large numbers received on such issues as catastrophic health insurance and the federal pay raise, both of which generated organized letter-writing campaigns, staffers said. Instead, the S&L letters are often handwritten, attached to newspaper clippings about the scandal, and end with such closings as "a sincerely angry voter."

At the House Banking Committee, which has been investigating the scandal, manila folders stuffed with thousands of letters are jammed into several file drawers and cardboard boxes in the committee's quarters in the Rayburn House Office Building. "For the last year, the S&L {crisis} has been the A-number-one topic of our mail," said Richard L. Maurano, a committee aide.

Some congressional aides said the S&L mail has tapered off this year. "It has slowed down since the Iraq situation and budget situation have been pushed to the front page," said Gary Caruso, a spokesman for Rep. Peter Hoagland (D-Neb.). Caruso said the S&L mail has dropped from 20 to 50 pieces a week to about three or four.

"Go After the Real Villains"

A survey of 43 congressional offices revealed regional differences in the flow of mail. The majority of the letters come from the states most affected by the crisis, particularly California, Florida and Texas. Many correspondents wrote out of self-interest, concerned about their deposits or their retirement money. Some wrote because a newspaper columnist suggested it, while others were spurred into action after watching congressional hearings on C-Span.

Gary Terrel, of Amarillo, Tex., took an index card, printed the name and address of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) on one side and wrote on the other: "BOMB the S&L's. I am one Texan of many who does not want to have to be taxed for the S&L goof up!"

Virginia and L.E. Montague of Punta Gorda, Fla., spoke for many of the letter writers in expressing their outrage at the pace of prosecutions. "Why don't you people in Congress go after the real villains -- confiscate their possessions, make them pay back every penny," they told Graham. "Go after the five U.S. senators who got richer on S&L hush money. Kick them out of the Senate and strip them of every last dirty dime they made off of S&Ls."

The couple was referring to the so-called "Keating Five" -- Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.). The Senate ethics committee has been investigating whether the five men improperly intervened with federal regulators on behalf of Charles H. Keating Jr., who has been accused by federal examiners of causing the failure of Lincoln Savings and Loan.

The committee's special counsel has recommended that Glenn and McCain be dropped from the investigation and that the inquiry continue into the roles of the other three.

Claude Waldorf, of Tyler, Tex., had harsh words for the regulators as well as the perpetrators. "There has been an enormous shoddy handling of the entire savings and loan industry, both by government oversight agencies and cheating and fraud by S and L officials," he wrote Bentsen. "Are government agency investigators in collusion with the S and L crooks?"

"I think the laws that convict these cheaters should allow the government to confiscate all their bank accounts as well as all their property just like top drug peddlers are subject to," Waldorf said.

"Why Should We . . . Pay All the Bill?"

Some writers criticized the government's cleanup as unfair to taxpayers. "Why should we, hard-working taxpayers, have to pay all the bill for this situation, while the people involved continue to do business somewhat as usual," Dan Bell of Aurora, Colo., wrote Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.), chairman of the Housing Banking Committee.

"I realize some of these people have signed consent orders agreeing to stay out of regulated banking, but what about their high-priced homes, possible cash hidden away, continued business ventures and other perks?" Bell wrote. "Why can't we recover assets as we do with drug-related cases? What about restitution. That may seem foolish, but I think they should be made to make an effort to pay back money for their greed. Please don't let these people off the hook."

Dave and Naomi Miles of Ojo Sarco, N.M., told Richardson that they are "mad as dogs over the methods used to rob all savers and Americans by those officers of the bankrupt and defunct savings institutions. They have used the freedoms of our country to conduct thievery at the expense of the majority. If we middle and low income Americans were found to try this type of shenanigans we would be jailed."

Still others expressed annoyance at the political in-fighting over the S&L scandal and questioned whether Congress has the political will to do the job.

Ruth Ursillo of Port Charlotte, Fla., told Graham she was "sick and tired" of the finger-pointing. "There is enough blame to go around between the administration, Republicans and Democrats."

Ursillo said that the savings and loan scandal is the latest in a series of scandals, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, waste in the Pentagon and the Iran-contra scandal, over the last 10 years. "My question is, 'Who was minding the store?' "

R.M. Vassell of Omaha told Hoagland the savings and loan crisis "is as great a crisis of confidence as that which existed during the Watergate era, if not a greater crisis."

"When Will the . . . Thievery Stop?"

Allan Roy Worcester of Bellevue, Neb., fired off a letter to Hoagland after seeing a television news report about a savings institution official who took over a group of failed thrift institutions "with only $1,000 of his own money."

"Are we now going to see a scandal on top of the S&L scandal that will push the bailout to a trillion dollars?" asked Worcester. "What do we have to do down here at the tax paying level to force an end to this savings and loan thing? When will the incompetence and thievery stop? Should we adopt a straight 'vote against the incumbent' policy?"

And if Congress doesn't know what to do, some letter writers offered suggestions. Lloyd M. Goldsmith of Portland, Tex., writing to Bentsen in what he said was his first letter ever to a senator, said Congress should "work out a deal with the lawyers to provide them a percentage of the government losses that they recover. That should send them on a feeding frenzy that will dwarf what we witnessed in the Valley after the bus wreck."

Goldsmith was referring to the lawsuits that followed a 1989 school bus wreck that killed 21 students in the Rio Grande Valley.

Some letter writers took the time to praise those congressmen who they feel are doing a good job. Clara A. Carlson of Port Angeles, Wash., told Gonzalez she was pleased that "at least one rational person is minding the store."

As the campaign winds down, incumbents hope that the letters won't translate into defeat at the polls. Richardson, who is expecting to be reelected to his fifth term, said he thinks the issue will cost him 5 percent of the people who normally vote for him.

He said his contact with the savings and loan issue has been "minimal." He wasn't in Congress between 1980 and 1982, when much of the deregulation occurred; he has only a few campaign contributions from savings and loan institutions; he doesn't serve on the banking committee and he backed Smith's legislation calling for a special prosecutor.

But, he said, none of that seems to matter. The anger isn't focused. "People still think I screwed up," Richardson said.