A criminal and internal investigation has been launched after money was discovered missing from Parks and Recreation funds in Lakeland.

The city manager says the missing money was discovered during an audit of accounts at the Simpson Park Recreation Complex.

“It’s a scar on Simpson Park. It’s a scar for the community,” Yvonne McShay told WFLA.

McShay has gone to the center for 25 years. She’s even donated to the various programs. 

“It’s very painful probably to everyone who lives around here,” she said.

Kevin Cook, Director of Communication for the City of Lakeland, says the numbers at Simpson Park weren’t adding up, so the city launched an internal audit.

They discovered five years of missing money.

“Obviously we had a total breakdown in cash handling procedures,” Cook said.

Three parks and recreation employees have either been asked to quit or retire.

Rashawn “Frank” Gant, a recreation leader resigned. Marquis Roberts, a supervisor, also resigned. Robert Glass, the Superintendent of Recreation retired.

A fourth employee, Mindi Fitch, who is the Fiscal Operations Manager, has hired an attorney to fight her termination.

“She was never supposed to be doing this. Her title does not reflect her job, which was to work with people when there were problems that were brought to her attention,” her attorney Robert Grizzard told WFLA by phone.

So where did the money go? Officials have still not released that information. A criminal investigation is also underway.

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