An Arlington County jury cleared Virginia Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer Jr. and family members yesterday of allegations in a civil suit that the controller at his Falls Church car dealership was fired after she complained about accounting irregularities, including the transfer of money from the business to Beyer's 1989 political campaign.

The controller, Wilma Pelletier-Baker of Fairfax, said she was fired in August 1989 from her $45,000-a-year job when she refused to follow the owners' instructions to violate state and federal tax laws.

She asked for $1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, claiming she suffered emotional distress and damage to her career.

The suit was against Beyer, his brother, Michael, who shares ownership of the dealership, their father, Don Beyer Sr., and Don Beyer Motors Inc.

"This woman is an honest human being who didn't like the fact that they were breaking the law," said Baker's attorney, Elaine C. Bredhoft, in her closing arguments Tuesday. "This woman has been destroyed in her career because of her honesty and her integrity."

Among the allegations in the suit, Baker claimed that Don Beyer withdrew substantial sums of money from the business to finance his campaign expenses, without properly paying interest on the money or declaring it as income on tax returns.

Baker also alleged that Beyer wrote a $100,000 check from his personal bank account to the firm, which he then cashed for his personal use. She alleged that bonuses were paid to employees of the firm without federal or state taxes being deducted, and that the company pension fund was mismanaged.

The defense acknowledged that there were irregularities in the firm's accounting, and that employees of Don Beyer Motors were paid off the books. But Beyer's attorney argued that the firing of Pelletier-Baker was a result of her poor performance and an inability to get along with co-workers.

"There is no question that Don Beyer improperly paid without withholding," said Norman West, Beyer's attorney. "What we do dispute is that anyone at any time told Wilma Baker she was being discharged because she wanted to comply with the law."

The five-day trial was presided over by Circuit Court Judge Thomas R. Monroe. Jurors deliberated 10 hours over two days.

Lawyers for the plaintiff indicated that they will appeal the jury's verdict.

In a prepared statement, the lieutenant governor said he felt "relieved and heartened by the jury's wise, unanimous decision in this case, a case which has worked great financial stress and emotional agitation on the employees of my business.

"Some very serious questions were raised about the financial integrity of my business and therefore of me personally. I am pleased that today our reputation was completely cleared."

Michael Beyer, president of Don Beyer Motors, said that "from the very beginning, we felt that {the suit} had a lot to do" with his brother's candidacy for lieutenant governor.

The suit was filed in October, shortly before the November election, in the hope that the defendants would settle out of court to avoid negative publicity at a crucial point in the campaign, he maintained.