Gambling, prostitution alleged at 'birthday party' Officers raid gathering in Baltimore catering hall

March 26, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Joe Mathews contributed to this article.

It was supposed to be an afternoon birthday party for "Jim Jones." Instead, it turned out to be a traveling sex show and gambling bonanza attracting nearly 100 men -- and two dozen Baltimore police officers who shut the act down.

Two undercover officers obtained $60 tickets, infiltrated the gathering at Councill's Restaurant and Catering on Patapsco Avenue and said they spent four hours documenting illegal gaming and prostitution.

Police raided the hall about 4 p.m. Saturday and let the patrons go home, but identified 25 workers and the lead promoter. Police also seized gaming equipment and $7,000, mostly in $1 bills.

No arrests were made, but investigators said they are trying to sort out the organizational structure and will file criminal charges after consulting with prosecutors. Police would not release names of the suspects because none has yet been charged.

Officials at Councill's refused to comment about the raid but said no employees were working the party.

Lt. Barry Baker of the police Southern District said up to six catering employees were on hand for the affair, but they apparently did not know ahead of time what sort of party was planned. Police said they are investigating why the workers did not notify authorities after the event started.

The organizers have had "other parties of this kind," said Maj. Kathleen T. Patek, commander of the Southern District. "They move from county to county or into the city so law enforcement has a tough time tracking them down."

The tickets distributed for the event were simple: "You are cordially invited to attend a surprise birthday party for Jim Jones," they read.

But a second part of the tickets -- given to patrons and not, police say, to the catering hall -- mentions "trouble we had at the last affair" and lists 13 rules of attendance. Ticket-holders are forbidden to mention the party to strangers, cannot buy admission at the door and cannot get in after 2 p.m. Tickets are given only after the receipt of money, so that "all tickets are sold to the right people." The ticket adds: "Type of affair: same as the others."

Police said 10 prostitutes from Washington and Virginia were hired for the party.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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