A former traffic court judge currently in the running for a seat on the Philadelphia City Council was caught hitting a parked Tesla Model 3 and subsequently leaving the scene without reporting the incident. A video captured of the event using the Model 3’s Sentry Mode feature was published by the vehicle’s owner on YouTube.
Judge Willie Singletary is seen backing out his Cadillac Escalade into the Tesla Model 3 parked next to him in the video, triggering the car’s alarm. Singletary then exits his SUV and appears to assess the damage caused to the all-electric sedan and even attempts to buff out the apparently visible marks at the point of impact. The affected part of the Model 3 isn’t visible in the video, but given the drawn-out contemplation and multiple attempts to smooth out the damage by Singletary, a police report or (at minimum) note to the owner was definitely warranted.
UPDATE: The owner of the Model 3 contacted Teslarati and provided additional details regarding the outcome of the incident. Singletary was easily identified thanks to the owner’s prior work on local elections and his contact information was available from campaign filings. The owner subsequently reached out to Singletary regarding the hit, which he says the former judge first denied but provided insurance information once made aware the event was on video. The police were then brought in to handle the matter further. The Escalade Singletary was driving in the video was a rental car. Additionally, the estimate for repair of the Model 3 provided to the owner by a Tesla certified body shop was $2000.
The Model 3 hit-and-run incident isn’t the first time Singletary has run afoul of the law, adding to the irony of his prior position as a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge. In 2015, the City Council hopeful was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by a year of supervised release, after being convicted of lying to the FBI in a ticket-fixing scheme investigation while serving as a judge. Singletary appealed the sentence as beyond the advisory range of 0-6 months for such convictions, but a federal judge resentenced him, citing the highly pervasive nature of the scheme. The judge claimed the corruption was so extreme, the Traffic Court was disbanded in the fall-out, thus the longer sentence was deserved.
Singletary, for his part, denied that the Traffic Court’s closure was related to his role, noting that he and all the other court judges were not convicted of corruption, only lying to the FBI, which he argued is a position the agency can easily manipulate into occurring. The state attorneys involved in the original case regarding the ticket-fixing responded to the appeal, citing witness testimony establishing Singletary’s participation in the scheme and noting the difficulty faced by the government to obtain convictions for fraud even in the face of significant evidence.
Given former Judge Willie Singletary’s colorful history with vehicle violations, this latest encounter with a Tesla Model 3’s Sentry Mode is likely not going to bode well for his City Council ambitions.
Tesla may be leading the charge in the electric vehicle revolution, but perhaps it’s about to take the lead in vehicle security solutions as well. Sentry Mode was created to address vehicle break-ins that appeared to target Tesla owners specifically, especially in California’s Bay Area, and the security advantages it’s providing are already proving the feature was well worth the effort it took to create.
Sentry Mode is a security feature available on all Tesla models and was recently launched via over-the-air updates to improve and complement existing vehicle security features and options such as GPS tracking and the Enhanced Anti-Theft Device cabin motion sensor. Once activated, the Tesla owner is alerted via the company’s mobile app, video footage is recorded, and in the event of an intrusion, Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is played at full volume to draw attention to the car. Once the vehicle’s “Alarm” state is entered following a detected incident, a video beginning 10 minutes prior to the event can be downloaded by the owner. Should Willie Singletary have been aware of this Tesla feature, perhaps his choice of action after backing into the Model 3 would have been different.