James M. Beggs, who resigned as NASA's administrator because of federal fraud charges that later were withdrawn, has received an apology from outgoing Attorney General Edwin Meese III.

"Your fellow citizens should now be more aware than ever that your character is untarnished and your behavior unblemished," Meese said in a letter that was hand-delivered to Beggs' home on June 29.When the government withdrew its indictment in June last year, Beggs told reporters it would be nice if Meese apologized. But Assistant Atty. Gen. William F. Weld, head of the criminal division, declined "the invitation to embrace the language of apology."

Weld, who since has resigned, said at the time that he would trust public opinion to understand that "in a criminal case if no conviction is obtained, no blemish should attach."

But Meese wrote Beggs that he had reviewed "the circumstances surrounding the wrongful indictment" and that he truly regretted the ordeal Beggs had been put through.