A Silver Spring couple is the focal point in the investigation of the mysterious 1996 disappearance of a North Carolina man and the theft of thousands of dollars from the man's bank account.

The couple, George and Noreen Kalomeris, emerged as suspects in the disappearance while Montgomery County police were investigating a 1997 shooting in Delaware. George Kalomeris is charged with attempted first-degree murder in that shooting and is being held in jail.

During a house search connected to the shooting, investigators found bank records for the missing man's account, court records show.

The allegations are detailed in an 18-count indictment announced Tuesday by Maryland U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia.

George Kalomeris, 42, and his wife, Noreen, 26, are each charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and money laundering. They allegedly stole more than $10,000 from the account of Gary Wayne Thomas, 42, of Greenville, N.C., according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Thomas is from a prominent family that operates Thomas Built Buses, which supplies buses to school districts nationwide.

Noreen Kalomeris, who is free on personal recognizance, declined to comment. Her Greenbelt attorney, Timothy Mitchell, also declined to comment.

A message left for the federal public defender representing George Kalomeris was not returned yesterday.

George Kalomeris is also charged with solicitation to commit murder because police contend that after he was jailed in the Delaware shooting, which left the victim paralyzed, he allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill the victim, according to court records.

On Aug. 15, 1997, Delaware State Police found Thomas Wayne Jones, 56, naked and lying in a field in Milford, according to court records. Jones was shot in the neck but was conscious and told police that he had been shot by Kalomeris, whom he described as an acquaintance.

Kalomeris allegedly had broken into Jones's home to rob him, and had shot him and left him for dead, said Delaware State Police Detective Gary Cucchini. Delaware State Police learned that George Kalomeris was living in Silver Spring with relatives.

On Aug. 20, 1997, Montgomery County police arrested him at a shopping center at Randolph Road and New Hampshire Avenue. The same day, county police searched the home at which he and his wife were staying in the 2900 block of Craiglawn Road in Silver Spring, according to U.S. District Court records.

At the home, investigators found bank records linking the couple to an account that Thomas, the missing North Carolina man, had at Wachovia Bank, court records state. The source of money in the bank account was Thomas's trust fund, according to an affidavit filed by U.S. Postal Inspector Robert F. Jones.

Authorities said Thomas disappeared in June or July of 1996. According to court records, the Kalomerises lived in North Carolina between 1994 and May 1997. For a while, Thomas and the Kalomerises lived in the same Greenville apartment complex, said Detective Ricky Best, of the Greenville police department.

The indictment alleges that on July 15, 1996, George Kalomeris "caused" a letter to be sent to Wachovia Bank in Thomas's name. Among other things, the letter said, "I will not be bothering you for a while."

George Kalomeris later had a letter mailed to the bank, again in Thomas's name, asking for money for a vacation and a car, the indictment said. In November 1996, he cashed a $5,000 check in North Carolina, money he obtained by selling a car owned by Thomas, the indictment said.

In the summer of 1997, George Kalomeris stole $7,150 from Thomas's account by forging checks, the indictment alleges. Between August 1997 and last May, the Kalomerises used suburban Maryland ATMs to withdraw $4,015 from Thomas's account, the indictment alleges.

Last October, a Montgomery County inmate told county detectives that George Kalomeris offered him $10,000 if he would find someone to kill Jones, the Delaware man, according to court records. Kalomeris told the inmate that he was facing life in prison, but if Jones were dead, there would be no witness and no case against him, according to court records.

The inmate told Montgomery County detectives about Kalomeris's overture, court records said. Detectives set up a post office box, and the inmate told Kalomeris to send a $500 down payment there, court records said. On Oct. 14, 1997, an envelope with five $100 bills was sent to the P.O. Box, court records said. The return address was to the Silver Spring home Noreen Kalomeris lived in, court records said.

George Kalomeris has a previous homicide conviction. According to court records, he was convicted of homicide in 1980 in Prince George's County and sentenced to life in prison. He served nine years before a judge ordered him released in July 1990, according to court records. Staff writer Fern Shen contributed to this report. CAPTION: Gary Wayne Thomas, of Greenville, N.C., disappeared in June or July 1996.