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Chuck's operators charged with gambling promotion

Published 12/29/2006 By BECKY CAMPBELL

 

Kingsport police officers seized these three vintage pinball machines after Friday's arrests at Chuck's Drive-In. Contributed photo.

 

KINGSPORT - Lunch for four police officers in plainclothes on Friday offered more than a meal after they saw a customer allegedly receive a pinball machine payout from a Chuck's Drive-In employee.

 

Kingsport Police Department Vice Detective Sgt. Tim Crawford said he, a second KPD vice officer and two 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force officers were eating lunch at Chuck's on Industry Drive on Friday when they observed a customer playing bingo-style pinball machines.

 

The officers observed the man, later identified as Howard Lee Nelms, 55, of Kingsport, playing the machines. At one point, Nelms nodded to the restaurant manager, later identified as Theresa Marcus, 39, of Piney Flats.

 

Crawford said Marcus looked at the point totals on the machines, went into the office, and returned with cash for the customer.

"It was obvious she was paying off the points total," Crawford said.

 

Marcus' husband, Travis Marcus, 38, also of Piney Flats, who co-owns Chuck's, entered the restaurant, and the officers observed him have a conversation with Nelms about the payout, according to Crawford.

 

The officers approached the three about the activity. All three were arrested - Nelms on a charge of gambling, and Travis and Theresa Marcus on a single count each of aggravated gambling promotion. When police interviewed her, Theresa Marcus said she paid the money because of an error in the machine. In another statement to police, Marcus said she paid $50 for 500 accrued points on the machine, according to Crawford.

 

In addition to the arrests, police seized three bingo pinball machines, $480 from Nelms and $1,650 from the business.

Travis Marcus and a business partner recently leased Chuck's and reopened the iconic restaurant last month after a brief closure.

The men said at the time the restaurant reopened that they planned to restore it to a true drive-in and would keep some of the longtime equipment - including those three vintage pinball machines that are now evidence in three criminal cases.

 

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