HIBBING, Minn. (AP) _ The city administrator has been barred from a group that promotes ethics in government because he photocopied a signature onto his application.

It was the first time in at least nine years that an applicant has been barred from the International City-County Management Association, said executive director William Hansell.

John Fedo, city administrator in Hibbing and former mayor of Duluth, acknowledged Monday he photocopied the signature of his predecessor, Patrick Nasi, onto the application.

Nasi, an association member, wrote to it May 1 to say his signature had been forged, giving the false impression that he endorsed Fedo for membership.

Fedo said he didn't have time to send the application to O'Fallon, Mo., where Nasi is now city administrator.

''They had to have it back right away,'' Fedo said. ''This is an application to join an association, not a secret society. What's the big deal?''

The association's Minnesota affiliate already had opposed granting Fedo membership because he was charged in 1988 with using his position as mayor of Duluth to swindle $13,500 from three businessmen.

Fedo was acquitted, but the chapter said the association's ethical code holds its members to a higher standard.

Fedo took the Hibbing job after losing a re-election bid last year.

Hansell said the association bars applicants when it appears they will not adhere to the organization's ethical standards. Fedo can appeal to the association's board of directors, which will meet in July.

The 78-year-old association was formed to promote high ethical and professional standards in government management. It has 7,900 members in 20 countries.