Knoxville denim business owner agrees to plead guilty in large scale gambling operation

Marcus Hall

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The owner of Knoxville business Marc Nelson Denim has agreed to enter a guilty plea, according to recently filed court documents, after officials say he ran an illegal gambling operation and used his business to launder the profits.

George Marcus Hall entered an agreement to plead guilty to charges of conducting, financing, managing, supervising, directing and owning an illegal gambling operation; and conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of the agreement, attorneys agreed not to further prosecute for any other offenses.

In a statement released on Friday, Hall said “I take responsibility for my actions and I apologize for any harm that I have caused. I am doing everything I can to resolve this matter and put it behind me.”

I have entered into a plea agreement pertaining to my past involvement in a gambling operation known to many in our community as The Numbers.  I take responsibility for my actions and I apologize for any harm that I have caused. I am doing everything I can to resolve this matter and put it behind me.

In the meantime, Marc Nelson Denim will continue to operate uninterrupted. Our employees will continue to furnish the world with high-end incredible quality denim and other clothing.  We continue to supply jobs in the inner city and continue to show the world that the absolute finest denim can be produced not just in the U.S., but right here in Knoxville.” – George Marcus Hall

Previous story: Knoxville owner confident about business future despite IRS investigation

The documents say Hall and co-defendants Clarance Lee McDowell and Maurece Damone McDowell owned and ran a daily numbers gambling operation from January 2009 to June 2015 that employed more than 20 people and made around $2,000 a day.


Marc Nelson Denim, 700 E. Depot Street
Marc Nelson Denim, 700 E. Depot Street

The McDowells own and operate Lonsdale Market and Deli, Lonsdale Payment Center and Triple M Property Management and while those and Hall’s businesses operate as they are intended, officials say they were being used to hide and were supported by the gambling operation.

Web Extra: Read the Plea Agreement [PDF]

Numbers sellers worked at several locations and allowed gamblers to make bets on three or four digit numbers. The winning numbers were based on Illinois State Lottery drawings. Number runners then took the numbers to either a portable office trailer on Dinwiddie Street or to Lonsdale Market and Deli, 3208 Rudy Street, where either Maurece McDowell or Hall collected the numbers. The sellers and runners would receive 25 percent of the money collected while Hall and the two McDowells kept the rest.

The Internal Revenue Service executed search warrants at several locations on June 8, including the McDowell’s and Hall’s businesses and homes. Receipts were discovered for that week’s gambling operation, which totaled more than $89,000. Witnesses and surveillance indicate Hall received his cut on Mondays, took the cash and laundered it in various ways. He then used the money to pay off loans and invest in his denim business.

Web Extra: Read the Complaint [PDF]

The documents indicate around $20 million was laundered by Hall and his co-defendants.

A sentence has not yet been determined but could include jail time, fines and forfeiture of assets.

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