SPARTA — A township councilman who got away with driving drunk is now claiming that his DWI arrest was part of an “organized conspiracy” by the police department.

Councilman Jerard “Jerry” Murphy is suing police, seeking an unspecified amount in damages for a Feb. 12, 2016, DWI bust. The existence of the lawsuit was first reported this week by open-government activist John Paff on his website.

Murphy doesn’t deny that he was drunk — a breath test after his arrest showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 percent, above the 0.08 limit — but he says that police should have stopped him from leaving the bar rather than waiting until they could pull him over.

He says they set him up instead because they were taking revenge for his voting to furlough police officers.

Murphy claims that a former cop who was at the bar texted an on-duty officer when Murphy left the St. Moritz Bar and Grill that day.

His lawsuit, filed in February in Superior Court in Sussex County, claims Officer Daniel Elig got the text message, left Panera Bread and drove to Main Street, where he pulled over Murphy.

Murphy says Elig lied on his police report, saying that he had been on Main Street all along watching traffic.

The police department’s attorney called Murphy’s claims “absurd.”

“This plaintiff is looking to blame everyone but himself for his reckless and dangerous actions, which put the lives of every other driver on the road that night in danger,” the police department’s attorney said in a legal filing calling on a judge to dismiss the case.

“This plaintiff is looking for a judge or jury to find that he never should have been pulled over, so he can go to his constituents with an excuse for his arrest.”

The motion to dismiss says that even if what Murphy says is true, his lawsuit does not explain which of his rights were violated.

The Hopatcong Municipal Court in January agreed to dismiss Murphy’s tickets for DWI, careless driving, speeding, failure to maintain lane. He pleaded guilty to license plate violation.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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