An NYPD sergeant kicked off the force five days before his federal trial was acquitted Thursday of trying to hide $140,000 from the Internal Revenue Service.
William Lewis, a 24-year veteran, apparently convinced the jury he was merely trying to hide the money from his ex-wife, not the tax man.
"I couldn't figure out who was the victim. It was his money," juror Juan Santiago said outside Brooklyn Federal Court. "There was no intent to defraud the government."
Lewis pounded the defense table and wept after the verdict.
"They destroyed my life," Lewis said of Internal Affairs Bureau investigators who he claims have been hounding him for six years.
Two years ago, Lewis was cleared in a departmental trial of tipping off a bar owner about a gambling probe.
Last year, the sergeant reported nearly $100,000 in cash stolen from a safe in his home. IAB opened a new probe and obtained records showing he made 25 withdrawals under $10,000 - the amount banks must report to the IRS.
It turned out the missing cash had been hidden by Lewis' girlfriend as a prank. Lewis said he took the money out of the bank because he thought his ex-wife was going after it.
Defense lawyer Eric Franz has vowed to sue the NYPD for the ex-sergeant's pension and to pursue civil rights violations against the IAB investigators.
Lewis was given no reason for his firing but he had been on probation for violations of the patrol guide.