SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Lackawanna County commissioners are trying to move forward after their chief of staff resigned abruptly last Friday after becoming the subject of a potential criminal investigation.
On Wednesday morning, the board of commissioners met for the first time since the situation started to play out.
Former chief of staff Andy Wallace resigned at 2:30 PM Friday afternoon.
He cited family and ongoing medical reasons but it came just days after the Lackawanna County District Attorney confirmed a criminal investigation was launched against him.
There is now debate over who should fill the chief of staff role permanently and how an acting chief of staff was appointed.
Almost as soon as Wednesday’s Lackawanna County commissioners meeting began, the chief of staff issue came up.
When Andy Wallace resigned Friday, commissioners Pat O’Malley and Laureen Cummings immediately chose attorney Don Frederickson to fill the role in an “acting capacity.”
He was sworn-in by a judge two hours later.
“We wanted it to be seamless because the chief of staff has to sign off on a lot of contracts and documentation all the time and I didn’t want to have a situation where we wouldn’t have a chief of staff in place,” Commissioner Pat O’Malley said.
Citing the importance of the job, commissioner Jerry Notarianni feels the issue should have come up at a public meeting like the one held Wednesday.
“It was on the Lackawanna County website that Don Frederickson was the “Acting Chief of Staff” before Commissioner O’Malley and Commissioner Cummings signed the paper agreeing to it,” Commissioner Jerry Notarianni said.
Former chief of staff Andy Wallace was first put on paid administrative leave last Tuesday after police announced they were looking into an “incident” at a store in the Archbald area.
The exact details of that “incident” have not yet been released.
As for Don Frederickson, who is filling the role temporarily, he says he doesn’t want it on a permanent basis.
“No. No. Absolutely not. This is just a temporary position. It’s acting chief of staff. Like I said, I’m just filling the obligations that are required under our code and charter,” acting chief of staff Don Frederickson, Jr. said.
That brings up the question, should the full-time position be opened up immediately for a potential successor?
“The board of commissioners will make that decision when we come to that time,” Commissioner O’Malley said.
At this point, the status of the criminal investigation into Andy Wallace is not known. He is not facing any criminal charges right now.
The Lackawanna County District Attorney issued a statement on the matter last week says he would not get any special treatment.
The chief of staff position in Lackawanna County currently pays more than $77,000/year.