Former traffic court judge who lied to FBI re-sentenced, will run for council

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the re-sentencing of former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge Willie Singletary.
Photo credit Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A convicted former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge caught up in a ticket-fixing scheme, now running for City Council, got his second day in court Wednesday, during a re-sentencing. 

While the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2014 conviction of Willie Singletary for lying to the FBI, it ordered that he be re-sentenced, because the presiding judge misapplied the sentencing guidelines. Singletary was previously sentenced to 20 months and was released in 2016. Now Judge Robert F. Kelly, using what he called an "upward bearing," gave him the exact same sentence. 

Defense attorney William J. Brennan says it should have been probation to six months, rather than 15-21 months.

"It's kind of like taking Broad Street or the Schuylkill Expressway to get to City Hall," Brennan said. "We got to the same place — they took a different route."

A former Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge, convicted of lying to the FBI in a ticket-fixing scheme, gets resentenced, a day after filing petitions in a run for city council.

— Steve Tawa (@stevetawa) March 13, 2019

Brennan says it doesn't change Singetary's status. 

"The jury found every judge not guilty of every corruption charge. He was charged with lying to the FBI, which is the single most home field advantage," Brennan said.

He says they wanted to correct the record.

"He's already served his sentence and paid his fine, but it was important to correct, because he's a young man with a bright future," Brennan said.

Willie Singletary, a pastor, who previously served 20-months in prison, told reporters outside the federal courthouse “Yes, I made a mistake. But I’m not a mistake...I think what I went through made me a better person,” and voters can decide whether to give him a second chance

— Steve Tawa (@stevetawa) March 13, 2019

Kelly noted the upward departure was due to the defendant's "dishonest conduct" and the nature of the offense. He says it was "so pervasive, Traffic Court was abolished, dispanded, destroyed, wiped out." Moving violations were absorbed by Municipal Court.

Singletary, who briefly ran for Congress in 2016, is now seeking an at-large seat on City Council.

"Yes, I made a mistake," Singletary said, "but I'm not a mistake. I'm going to fix Philadelphia, when given a chance again."

Outside the federal courthouse, as he left reporters and photographers, he revealed a campaign slogan. He chanted "Willie for Philly," saying the voters should decide about his second chance.

"I think what I went through has made me a better person. It taught me a lot about myself. I had to learn a lot of hard lessons," he said. "I'm going to keep fighting. I don't give up. I don't give in. And I don't give out."

The day before the resentencing, Singletary submitted more than 2,000 signatures in a petition to run for City Council.