Traffic Court judges surrendering as public awaits release of indictment in ticket-fixing case

The suspension of Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary could be the best example of why Pennsylvania needs to switch to merit selection of judges. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

Update: Defense attorney William Brennan said he reviewed the indictment against his client, former Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary, and was struck by the fact that "it does not allege that my client took one thin dime."

"Apprently the allegations set forth the government's perception of a scheme that defrauds the state out of potential fines," Brennan said. "I'll read it again, but it seems to me it's like speculating on pork belly futures."

Brennan said that as he read the 79-page indictment, he "kept waiting to get to the part where money changed hands, but I haven't seen it. My understanding is that my client's conviction rates were fairly high."

Earlier: As the Daily News predicted on the front page of Thursday's newspaper, Philadelphia Traffic Court judges and at least one employee have started surrendering at the federal courthouse in Center City and will appear in court later today once charges are unsealed in a grand jury indictment.

Defense attorney William Brennan and former Traffic Court judge Willie Singletary arrived at the William Green Federal Building about 8:20 Thursday morning. Singletary, wearing a dark overcoat and gray suit, looked solemn and said nothing.

They left the building shortly before 10 a.m. Brennan said Singletary had been allowed by prosecutors to surrender "as a courtesy." The other option, Brennan said, was for federal investigators to "kick your door in and drag you out by your hair, and that's very unpleasant."

Brennan said the federal indictment was still sealed, so it was unclear what Singletary would be charged with. Brennan also said that Singletary would appear in court at 1:30 Thursday afternoon and plead not guilty to "whatever he's charged with."

Singletary uttered one comment: "My God is able."

Former Traffic Court administrator William Hird left the federal building a short while later. Hird's attorney, Greg Pagano, said he also didn't know what charges would be coming down.

Pagano said Hird is an "honest, tax-paying, hard working citizen" who was facing indictment for "doing his job." Hird did not comment.