Andy Wallace had it all. Power, prestige and the perks that come with being an elite player in Lackawanna County politics. His annual salary as county chief of staff was $77,131 in a county where the average household income is $59,635.
By local standards, Wallace had it made. He also had a perversion for victimizing the powerless. As Staff Writer Joe Kohut reports, Wallace pleaded guilty this morning to attempted indecent assault. Wallace, 66, of South Abington Twp., told Judge James Gibbons he solicited an 18-year-old male clerk for oral sex and tried to grab the man’s genitals outside P&R Discount Grocery in Archbald.
Investigators said Wallace was “notorious” for seeking sex from male workers at P&R, so much so that employees hid in a back storeroom to avoid contact with him. They said he dressed in a suit and specifically targeted Latino clerks who might fear deportation if they rebuffed or reported his sexual advances.
Wallace used that fear to prey on the powerless, and clearly thought he’d get away with it. Most local observers thought so, too. His guilty plea is an undeniable sign of changing times.
At Wallace’s arraignment in July, attorney Amil Minora said his client was a victim of circumstances.
“We believe when the evidence comes out, this will be [found to] be a terrible misunderstanding, not a criminal act,” Minora said. Wallace’s guilty plea today leaves no room for doubt.
Once upon a time, Wallace’s crime might have been swept under the rug, kept quiet in deference to his position and influence. His downfall is empirical evidence that Lackawanna County is experiencing an exciting new era of accountability.
The state Attorney General is investigating the Scranton School District and county government. There is reason to hope those who abuse the power, prestige and perks that come with being an elite player in Lackawanna County politics will finally be held to account.
Wallace faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison. He must register as a sex offender for 15 years. He may never go to jail, but Wallace will never again be a free man.