Only Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) clearly crossed the line of ethical propriety in a meeting that he and four other senators held with federal thrift regulators in April 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating Jr.'s failing Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, a senior regulator told the Senate ethics committee yesterday.

In his second day of testimony, Michael Patriarca, one of four regulators at the meeting, said he faulted all the senators for having "made up their minds in advance on the basis of one side of the story" but believes only DeConcini tried to influence the regulators' examination of Lincoln.

"It's not clear to me that any of the others did," he said, referring to Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.), who are being investigated along with DeConcini for helping Keating while he raised more than $1.3 million for their political campaigns and causes.

Patriarca said the senators seemed not to comprehend the regulators' complaints about Lincoln's operation until they were told the case was being referred to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Then, the mood changed dramatically, "like throwing holy water on a vampire," he said.

The senators' April 9 meeting and another the week before with chief regulator Edwin J. Gray have figured prominently in nine days of hearings, focusing largely on DeConcini's role, as portrayed by Gray and Patriarca, in proposing a deal to ease an investment regulation that Lincoln opposed.

But the focus is expected to turn next week to Cranston when the committee will question Joy Jacobson, a Cranston fund-raiser who once wrote a memo to the senator that Keating was among contributors who "rightfully expect" his help.

In the second installment of an October deposition released yesterday, Cranston said he saw nothing wrong with having Jacobson keep him "generally informed about their {contributors'} concerns" while she was soliciting money from them.

"I couldn't raise money effectively if I didn't know something about what's on the minds of prospective contributors. . . . It cannot be unethical for Joy to call to my attention the fact that a contributor has a problem and will be seeking my help," he said.

Cranston also acknowledged under questioning from Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.), vice chairman of the Select Committee on Ethics, that Keating had "almost total access" to Cranston and his staff.

"There was no question that whenever Keating wanted to talk to you or your staff, he got to do that?" Rudman asked.

"Usually, yes," Cranston responded.

But he denied emphatically that he acted as a "go-between" for Keating with federal regulators while Keating was attempting to sell Lincoln shortly before it was seized by the government early last year, even though Cranston repeatedly contacted regulators in support of a sale.

As for soliciting campaign and cause-related contributions from Keating, Cranston said, "You don't ask a guy like him for peanuts, and you ask frequently."

Near the end of his two-day deposition, Cranston observed almost ruefully: "Personally and politically, I wish to God I'd never heard of Charles Keating. It would be easy for me to say that I wish I had not done what I did. But I have gone over these events in my mind a hundred times, and I'm confident that what I did was right and proper."

In another affidavit released yesterday, M. Danny Wall, Gray's successor as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, said he did not know at the time of numerous conversations with Cranston about Lincoln between 1987 and 1989 that Cranston was simultaneously receiving large contributions from Keating for voter registration groups he was sponsoring. "Had I known . . . I would have been very disturbed," he said.

In his testimony, Patriarca said he regarded senatorial intervention on behalf of a specific institution such as Lincoln to be improper because such issues should be resolved in court. Lincoln had "every significant law firm in the country" on retainer, he said.

Patriarca also agreed with committee member Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) that there is a difference between general rule-making cases and judicial-like proceedings applying to one particular institution, where congressional intervention has been limited by the courts. Lincoln's case before the banking regulators fell "more on the side" of an adjudicatory proceeding, he said.