BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore city sports facility director was fired after an investigation revealed that unsanctioned, adults-only parties were thrown at the Shake & Bake Family Fun Center and that proceeds from those parties were either missing or fees weren’t charged.
According to the office of the inspector general (OIG), they received an allegation of embezzlement at the the family fun center on Nov. 29, 2019. They learned an unsanctioned, adults-only party occurred and concession stand proceeds were allegedly never deposited into the safe.READ MORE: Poinsettias, Trains Help H.P. Rawlings Conservancy Get 'Back On Track'
The Shake & Bake Family Fun Center has been in the Upton community since 1982. It received a $1.6 million renovation in April 2019 and offers state-of-the-art roller skating and bowling and can be booked for private events from $120 to $170 per hour.
The city’s Department of Parks and Recreations Human Resources Department conducted its own internal investigation and learned employees assigned to the Shake & Bake Family Fun Center hosted unauthorized parties at the facility. They advertised the parties on their personal social media accounts and sold $20 tickets for the events. They advertised a cash bar and access to purchasing food from the concession stand.
OIG officials learned a former employee hosted a late-night, adults-only party at the center on Nov. 23, 2019. That employee wasn’t charged a rental fee and the party wasn’t officially listed on the center’s schedule. The OIG found seven other late-night events advertised on social media. Five of the seven events were not on the center’s official schedule and two of the listed events didn’t have any verification of payment.READ MORE: Essex Spreads Holiday Cheer With Christmas Tree Lighting
The investigation revealed a facility director allowed several organization to host parties without collecting rental or other related fees.
Even though the parks and recs department did self-report this situation in late December, they delay in reported led to a loss of key video footage and other evidence which is why OIG couldn’t determine who was responsible for the missing funds.
Parks and Recs completed their internal investigation before reporting the alleged theft to OIG.
The facility director led the internal investigation and accused the shift manager of stealing the deposit. They then took that person’s keys and escorted the employee from the building. OIG learned the facility director confirmed the Nov. 23 party back in September but didn’t charged the former employee the $680 rental fee. The reservation included the use of a VIP Billiard Room from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The facility director also admitted to allowing a local DJ to host a late-night Rock & Bowl party at the facility and another small business.MORE NEWS: State Health Department Opens Vaccine, Testing Clinics In Mondawmin Mall
OIG estimated thousands of dollars in revenue was lost due to unsanctioned parties and lack of collecting fees and proceeds correctly. Ultimately Parks and Recs fired the facility director for abusing his authority and violating city policy.