The director of Baltimore’s iconic Shake and Bake Family Fun Center was fired after an investigation revealed he allowed unauthorized, adults-only parties on the premises without collecting or storing money properly.
Inspector General Isabel Cumming released a report Wednesday outlining her office’s investigation into the city-operated recreation center in West Baltimore’s Upton neighborhood.
The review found the director “exceeded his authority by allowing select organizations to have parties without collecting rental fees on several occasions.”
“The facility director failed to follow standard procedures for the rental of the facility resulting in loss of revenue to the city,” Cumming wrote.
The director was fired March 17, according to a letter written by Recreation and Parks Department Director Reginald Moore in response to the findings.
The Shake and Bake Family Fun Center on the city's west side, founded in 1983 by a former Baltimore Colt, has overcome financial problems to become a vital asset to the community. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltlimore Sun)
Moore wrote that Shake and Bake also changed its procedures to centralize the venue booking process, and events will now require special approval.
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The department, he wrote, “is committed to ensuring that staff are aware of the obligations and restrictions contained in our cash handling procedures and will continue to ensure that regular training occurs.”
Cumming’s investigation confirmed a tip that Shake and Bake held a late-night bowling party for adults on Nov. 23, 2019. There was no rental fee — which can typically be several thousands of dollars — charged for the event, and it wasn’t listed in the facility’s operating systems. It was described as a “promoter” event with a $20 admission fee and a cash bar.
While money collected was supposed to be deposited in the Shake and Bake safe, the funds were not accounted for, Cumming’s report states.
Of seven other late-night Shake and Bake events the investigation identified on social media, five were not listed in the operating system and payment could not be verified for two events.
The facility director “abused his authority” and allowed organizations to have parties without collecting rental fees, the review found.