His arrest Wednesday, which came after a monthlong investigation by the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division and Upper Darby police, surprised Murphy's superiors.
"There was no indication that anything was going on," said F. Raymond Shay, the township's chief administrative officer.
He added that there was nothing in Murphy's record to suggest a problem. ''It was totally unexpected," he said.
Murphy, one of about 13 employees in the township's Meter Department, earned about $25,000 a year.
So far this year, parking-meter collections have totaled about $279,870. The department is expected to generate a half-million dollars in revenue this year.
In June, county detectives were told that a Meter Department employee was stealing coins. They began stakeouts.
A police affidavit provides a glimpse of Murphy's alleged activities:
Murphy carried a paper bag of coins to the Waterford Inn on Ludlow Street in Upper Darby on five days between July 26 and Wednesday. Each time, he would cash in the coins, and once he stayed to play the draw-poker machine.
On July 26 at 12:40 p.m., police saw Murphy carry a brown paper bag into the Waterford Inn and hand it to a man behind the bar. The man, identified only as Harry, removed the rolls of coins from the bag and counted them. The total was about $220. Harry made a notation on a pad and counted out a quantity of currency.
On July 29, Murphy left the Meter Department and drove home. About 12:15 p.m., he left his home with a white paper bag and arrived at the bar. A bartender gave money to Murphy in exchange for the bag.
On July 31, Murphy dropped off his crew at 69th and Walnut Streets, then drove home and dropped off a package. He later retrieved the package and drove to the bar, where he put a brown bag on the counter. Murphy got $200 from the bartender and started playing the draw-poker machine.
On Aug. 5, shortly after 9 a.m., employees dropped off their first meter collections with Murphy, who was in the department van. Murphy then parked on a street and repeatedly reached into the area behind the van's front seat.
At the township building, he parked the van next to his car and put a rolled brown paper bag into the car. Later, he went to the Waterford Inn and placed a brown bag on the bar. When another bartender inquired, "What is it?" Murphy responded, "120 in coin." Murphy told the bartender to "Get Harry." The bartender asked, "Does he buy it from you every day?" Murphy replied, "Yes." Harry then handed currency to Murphy.
On Wednesday at 2:05 p.m., Murphy left the Meter Department and drove to the Waterford Inn, where he put a brown bag on the bar. Detectives waiting at the bar searched the bag and found $180 in quarters.
Murphy was arrested about 2:30 p.m.
He was arraigned Wednesday night before District Justice Michael Cullen on five counts each of theft by unlawful taking or disposition and theft by failure to make required deposits of funds received. He was released when he signed a $5,000 bail pledge.
Waterford Inn owner Harry Morjigian said yesterday, "We've known him for years," but declined to comment further. "It's not a pleasant thing," he said. No charges have been filed against Morjigian, said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Anthony Celia.
Celia said Murphy was suspended yesterday without pay pending the outcome of the case.
When contacted at home last night, Murphy's wife said her husband was not available for comment.