Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary, under fire after he allegedly showed a picture of his penis to a female staffer last month, was suspended without pay Thursday by the state Supreme Court.
A source familiar with the high court's action said the 29-year-old judge was removed "for an indefinite period of time pending further disciplinary action" by the Judicial Conduct Board.
On Dec. 22, after the woman filed a sexual-harassment complaint, Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer relieved Singletary of his duties and ordered him to stay away from the courthouse. Sources said Singletary had confronted the woman in an attempt to get her to withdraw the complaint.
The high court asked Glazer to take over administration of Traffic Court after a recent internal review concluded that some judges were letting "political sources" interfere with decision-making. According to sources, at least three of the seven sitting Traffic Court judges have been called before a federal grand jury investigating the court's operations.
Singletary, who was elected in 2007 to the post that pays $85,000 a year, was not available for comment Thursday. His lawyer, William Brennan, confirmed that his client was suspended without pay.
"We certainly respect the authority of the Supreme Court," said Brennan. "But as of this date Judge Singletary has never been served with a complaint as to what this [suspension] pertains to.
"Obviously, we have seen the rumors in the press. But it is customary in matters of discipline to supply the accused with notice. . . . We want to know what the allegation is - not from the media, but through some type of complaint about alleged wrongdoing.
"This man is an elected official. He answers to the Supreme Court. But fair is fair."
No stranger to controversy, Singletary was once filmed suggesting that campaign contributors would get favorable treatment in his court. A video posted to YouTube shows Singletary seeking campaign donations at a 2007 biker rally. "There's going to be a basket going around because I'm running for Traffic Court judge, right, and I need some money," Singletary said at Malcolm X Park while campaigning in the primary. "Now, you all want me to get there. You're all going to need my hookup, right?"
In 2009, the Judicial Conduct Board reprimanded him for that but took no further action, noting that Singletary is not a lawyer and had not been elected when he made the remarks. The job of Traffic Court judge does not require a law degree.
The Judicial Conduct Board investigates allegations of ethical misconduct against Pennsylvania judges.
In 2006, before running for office, Singletary established City of Refuge, a West Philadelphia church, where he served as pastor.
Responding to the allegation of influence-peddling, he told the board that he never intended to give special treatment to campaign donors.
"I was in preacher mode," he said. "I do admit a poor choice of words."
Singletary is a Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf. Before being elected, he amassed dozens of traffic violations - to the tune of $11,500 - which led to the suspension of his driver's license until 2011. The license was reinstated and he paid off his fines.
Contact staff writer Michael Matza at 215-854-2541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.