WASHINGTON TWP. The state legislator who was cleared of a charge of driving while intoxicated and other offenses relating to a 2012 traffic stop has filed a suit against the township patrolman who stopped him and the police department.
Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty (D., Gloucester) filed the complaint Friday in U.S. District Court in Camden against the force and Joseph DiBuonaventura, who is also facing criminal charges, including misconduct and falsifying records.
The officer stopped Moriarty's Nissan Murano in July 2012 on the Black Horse Pike in Turnersville, accusing the assemblyman of cutting him off and failing to maintain his lane. Those claims were later refuted by video footage captured on the patrol car.
The charges against Moriarty - which included driving while intoxicated because he declined to take a breath test - were dropped. Moriarty, who appeared to pass field sobriety tests, later said he refused the test because his confidence in the system was diminished by the unwarranted stop. He has maintained that he was not drinking.
The suit says Moriarty "suffered damage to his reputation, serious mental anguish, psychological and emotional distress," among a list of claims that ends with the "loss of the enjoyment of life."
The complaint states that Moriarty's Fourth Amendment rights were violated. It also says the Police Department continued to prosecute Moriarty after evidence was in its possession that countered the claim.
The suit further alleges that the department had inadequate policies and practices to drop the charges in a timely manner.
"The kind of damage this kind of activity does is very hard to fix when you're a public figure," said William C. Popjoy III, Moriarty's attorney.
Popjoy pointed to online search results that connect Moriarty, who is a former Washington Township mayor, to the 2012 incident.
"We're hoping this lawsuit further helps to clear his name," Popjoy said.
John Armano, the township's solicitor, said Wednesday he had not yet received the filing and could not discuss it. Likewise, Louis M. Barbone, DiBuonaventura's defense attorney, said he had not yet seen the suit and could not comment.
A grand jury indicted DiBuonaventura, a 17-year veteran of the force who is suspended without pay, on the criminal charges last year. This month, the defense motioned to have the indictment thrown out, but a Superior Court judge ruled against the action.