Strip club owner David “Slim” Baucom operates a business that is outside the mainstream, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to gain influence with North Carolina politicians.
In 2006, Baucom came under scrutiny for making a $4,000 contribution to a Charlotte-based political action committee, which had funneled the money to then-N.C. House Speaker Jim Black without reporting it.
During Black’s tenure, the adult entertainment industry was looking for influence in the General Assembly as state regulators sought more control over topless bars. Baucom was also among video poker operators who had contributed to Black, spurring investigations of Black’s campaign finances.
Baucom was called before a grand jury investigating Black, a Democrat who later pleaded guilty to public corruption and went to prison. Baucom was not charged.
The strip club owner’s role in the Black investigation was perhaps the most high-profile turn in the career of one of Charlotte’s lesser-known business moguls.
For nearly three decades, Baucom, 59, has owned MAL Entertainment, one of the largest strip club enterprises in the Southeast. The company has a dozen locations from Raleigh to Ohio, including establishments in the Charlotte area such as the Gentleman’s Club, the Gold Club and multiple Leather & Lace locations.
The company’s website says it’s looking to expand, even as court records show Baucom and his company are facing a new round of legal troubles. On Wednesday, he has a court date on 2013 charges of possessing and operating a slot machine, court records show. In February, the IRS filed a nearly $500,000 tax lien against MAL Entertainment.
In a document unsealed Monday, federal prosecutors allege former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon accepted cash payments from a businessman who ran an adult club in the path of the Blue Line light-rail extension in northeast Charlotte.
A July 2013 Charlotte Area Transit System report says Baucom’s Twin Peeks club on North Tryon Street was demolished in June 2013 and was set to be rebuilt on the remainder of the lot.
Baucom has not been charged in the Cannon investigation. He did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday, and his attorney, Joseph Ledford, declined to comment.
Baucom grew up poor, dropped out of Myers Park High School at 16 and went to work for a tree-cutting company. Later, he left the tree company for a job in the maintenance division of the city of Charlotte’s Park and Recreation Department.
In 1984, he had his most serious encounter with the legal system when he was convicted of selling cocaine but avoided prison time, according to a 1998 Observer story. A public records search shows that he has faced a variety of charges over the years, ranging from assault on a female allegations that were dismissed in 2012 to zoning infractions.
He started MAL Entertainment in 1987 with the Leather & Lace on South Boulevard, according to the company’s website. Baucom was bartender, doorman and floorman, and a woman named Jackie Adelle was a dancer and waitress.
Property records show Baucom is married to a Jacqueline Baucom. They own an 11,191-square-foot home in Cabarrus County. The land and building are valued at more than $800,000.
In 1991, one of his clubs was the scene of a shooting. Baucom allowed a former manager on a jail work-release program to run one of his Leather & Lace locations, and the manager shot three brothers, killing two of them, after an altercation at the door. Baucom drew a $10,000 state fine and liquor-license suspension, and the manager was sent to prison.
The fine was among thousands of dollars in penalties he has paid for alcohol-related violations at his clubs over the years.
In its affidavit describing the case against Cannon, the FBI said Cannon claimed he could influence city and county functions, including alcohol permits, to help developers.
In another career turn, Baucom told a website called thevelvetnights.com that at one time he started a professional wrestling company. He said he signed a contract with the Pentagon and took wrestlers to bases around the world to entertain the troops.
Tourism PAC contribution
In 2006, Baucom gained statewide attention for his $4,000 contribution to the Charlotte-based Tourism PAC.
The PAC’s treasurer, Mohammad Jenatian, said the money came from Baucom. But the PAC did not initially publicly disclose the donation as required by campaign finance laws. Jenatian called it an oversight and filed a corrected report.
It was also Jenatian who introduced Cannon to an undercover agent posing as a Chicago businessman about three years ago, a key moment in the FBI’s investigation of Cannon. It is not clear whether Jenatian, who is president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality & Tourism Alliance, knew the businessman was really an FBI agent.
Baucom and Cannon have served together on the HTA’s board.
In an interview in April, Baucom told the Observer that he has stopped donating to campaigns.
“Ever since the Jim Black thing, I haven’t given them a penny,” he said. “... It wasn’t that I had done anything wrong. It was just being brought up because of the nature of (my) business.”
According to the 1998 Observer story, Baucom has three sons. One of them, Walter David “W.D.” Baucom III, owns a contracting business and was appointed in 2011 to the city of Charlotte’s business advisory committee, which provides recommendations and advice to the City Council.
A bio on the business advisory committee’s website also lists W.D. Baucom as a senior vice president at MAL Entertainment.
W.D. Baucom told the Observer in April that he serves on the business advisory committee on behalf of the Metrolina Native American Association. His family is part of the Lumbee Tribe. The City Council invited MNAA to be on the council committee three years ago, and the MNAA leaders chose him as the representative, he said.
The Lumbee connection means the Baucom Group is minority-owned, according to the company’s website, and Charlotte’s vendor database lists the firm as a minority-owned business. City officials said Monday that the Baucom Group has had no contracts with the city.
Hotel’s alcohol permit
According to the Baucom Group’s website, one of its employees is Larry Parks, whose name emerged in the wake of an investigation into the alcohol permit at the uptown Sheraton Hotel, formerly known as the Blake Hotel.
According to a report by an Alcohol Law Enforcement agent, Parks, a representative of the Sheraton, told a CMPD official to sign off on an incomplete permit application last year because he knew someone at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission “who would take care of it.”
But W.D. Baucom told the Observer in April that Parks hadn’t worked for the company for three years, and was listed only because Baucom hadn’t “kept up with my website like I should.”
Court records and corporate records suggest Parks has ties to “Slim” Baucom and MAL Entertainment as well. In 2012, he was served in a federal lawsuit at MAL’s corporate offices on North Tryon Street in the University City area. Parks was also briefly involved with an investment company with “Slim” Baucom in Gastonia in 1996, according to secretary of state documents.
Parks did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.