Oliver North was so pinched for money that he complained about not having enough to buy lunch and gasoline, but his complaints suddenly stopped in mid-1985, a former National Security Council official testified Friday.

The prosecution is seeking to portray North as a career military officer who became money-hungry while working at the NSC, where he controlled a cash fund in his office safe that was intended to provide covert aid to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.Mary Dix, who was the NSC's director of administration, testified that the Marine lieutenant colonel complained on five occasions through mid-1985 that he was strapped for cash.

On a few occasions in the hallway as she was going home, North would run after her "yelling Mary, Mary," she recalled. She said that "he would need cash to go home," complaining that he didn't have enough to buy gasoline.

In other instances, "Colonel North would get very upset" if the petty cash box for paying cab fare was empty, Dix said.

When North wasn't reimbursed rapidly enough for office expenses, "He would be pretty frantic" in trying to get NSC staffers to process his expense accounts, "to turn them around as soon as possible."

"He said his credit cards were charged to the limit," she said.

On a few other occasions while she was in her office, "he would run by. His face was red. He was very upset with my staff," about not being reimbursed fast enough.

"I would herd him from my area," she recalled.

North said at one point that there was "not enough for cash to go home" and "not enough for lunch money," she testified.

Prosecutor David Zornow asked if North's complaining stopped.

"It stopped to the best of my recollection in mid-1985," Dix replied.

North testified Monday that the $3,000 balance on a used GMC Suburban vehicle he bought in October 1985 was paid from money he kept in a metal box in a closet at his home.

But the salesman who sold the vehicle, William Howell, testified Friday that North said he was going to get the money from the White House credit union.