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Free parties, missing money leads to Baltimore Shake and Bake director's firing

Posted at 2:13 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 12:22:43-04

BALTIMORE — A former facility director at the Shake and Bake bowling alley and skating rink was fired, after the Baltimore City Inspector General (OIG) released a scathing report finding that he'd given inconsistent statements and been untruthful during an investigation into missing cash deposits at the historical recreational center.

The report was released publicly on Wednesday.

In it the OIG determined eight unauthorized late night parties were held at the Shake and Bake, all of which were advertised on social media, but not on the normal Shake and Bake scheduling platforms.

On at least three occasions, the OIG found no proof of any rental fees being paid.

During the investigation, the facility manager admitted to allowing a DJ hold a rent-free bowling party and a small Baltimore business to hold a free launch party with free soda from the concession stands.

Then there was a November 2019 party hosted by a former Shake and Bake employee. The facility manager told the OIG he knowingly didn't charge rental fees for the event.

Despite not being charged rental fees, the former employee reportedly advertised the party on social media and charged $20 admission per person.

During the party the Shake and Bake concession stands were open. Afterwards, the money made from concessions was supposed to be deposited into the building's safe. But the OIG found that money was missing and never accounted for.

When the facility director went to give the accounting supervisor with City Parks and Rec the weekly deposit, it came up $1085 short. The facility director told the accounting supervisor he couldn't find $736.50 that should have been put in the safe from concession sales the day of the party.

Parks and Rec then launched an internal investigation and found out about the free unauthorized event and that concession money had been missing from the safe.

In response, the facility director claimed to investigate his staff at Shake and Bake and later accused the shift manager at the time of stealing the deposit. That worker had their keys to the building taken and was escorted off the property and never returned to work.

In late December, Parks and Rec decided to report the incident to the OIG. Unfortunately, the OIG says the delay in reporting resulted in the loss of video footage and other evidence, preventing them from finding out exactly who was responsible for the missing deposit.

The OIG concluded the city could have lost anywhere from $2680 to $5680 in revenue as result of the free parties. According to the OIG, the investigation found a lack of cash handling and inventory procedures for staff. The OIG also determined the facility manager abused his power by approving the free parties, and removing the shift manager without consulting human resources.

Following the OIG report, Parks and Rec fired the facility director on March 17, 2020, and implemented new staff rules and training procedures.

In March 2019, the city-owned Shake and Bake under went a $1.6 million renovation.

The full report can be read below.

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Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ released a response to the OIG investigation:

”When we reopened the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) made a promise to the community to run its operations with integrity and transparency. It was important to our agency to spearhead an investigation through the Baltimore Office of the Inspector General upon learning of an unauthorized 21 and over party. BCRP has taken necessary responsive measures since launching the investigation, including appropriate employee termination, implementation of staff training, and adjustments to standard operating procedures. The steps to correct this discrepancy and to prevent future incidents are ongoing.”