Recording claims to show racist rant by former Memphis Chamber employee

Recording claims to show racist rant by former Memphis Chamber employee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A viral video circulating on social media claims to show a Memphis couple making explicit racist remarks while on vacation in Turks & Caicos.

The video was the result of a phone call between the couple and staff members of Mango Reef restaurant, Magnetic Media reported.

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A story from LiveLeak.com identified the couple as a woman who works for the Greater Memphis Chamber and a man who is the CFO/COO of Tobacco Superstores, Inc. in Arkansas. That story has since been removed from the LiveLeak.com website.

A FOX13 Internet search identified Joe Marelle as the CFO/COO of Tobacco Superstores, Inc. A further search revealed he is engaged to Lauren Loeb. The two are scheduled to be married later this year.

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Loeb was listed on her LinkedIn profile as the Director of Membership Programming and Services for the Greater Memphis Chamber. The profile, along with her social media accounts, have since been deleted.

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FOX13 reached out to the Greater Memphis Chamber for comment on the video. We were sent the following statement:

This recording shows a despicable act by a despicable person. Anybody who makes a statement like this is not eligible for employment with the Greater Memphis Chamber. Anyone who engages in conversation like this would be terminated from the Chamber.

Lauren Loeb has not been an employee with the Greater Memphis Chamber since March 10, 2017.

FOX13 has not directly confirmed the people featured in the video to be Lauren Loeb and Joe Marelle.

The video shows a picture of what appears to be Loeb's phone. It features a picture of the couple and is dated April 11. Magnetic Media told FOX13 the incident happened on April 10.

Attorney, Brian Faughnan, who is representing Lauren Loeb and Joe Marelle, released a statement to FOX13:

"A 'news' story has made its way from Turks & Caicos to Memphis.  It is a story that is false in many respects but it is now garnering such attention here that it simply cannot be ignored or go without a response given how it threatens the reputations and privacy of people who are now about to be victimized twice.

I represent Ms. Loeb and her husband.  Ms. Loeb’s phone was stolen while she and her husband were at a restaurant in Turks & Caicos.  That is true.  Her phone was never returned to her.  That is false.  The fact that the “leaked” recording shows a picture of Ms. Loeb’s phone makes clear that the people who released the alleged recorded call still had the phone they stole.  Given their willingness to lie about what they did with the phone, everything else they claim occurred must also be doubted.

After Ms. Loeb’s phone was stolen, she shared that fact on her social media account and asked her online friends to negatively review the restaurant in question.  Apparently that did not go over well with someone who worked at that restaurant because they’ve now gone to great lengths to attempt to defame Ms. Loeb and her husband.

For the record, Ms. Loeb and her husband were certainly not doing drugs during their time in Turks & Caicos and the conversation that is being claimed to occur is faked in many respects as neither of them would use the terms or speak in the manner portrayed.

On behalf of my clients, I would ask that media outlets not add to the sensationalized nature of this situation, cease camping out at my client’s home, and allow my clients to determine what their legal rights are and then decide in private whether to choose to pursue them."

Magnetic Media reported the couple called Mango Reef, because they thought the woman's cellphone had been stolen while they were at the restaurant. The couple allegedly began making racists comments to the staff, so they began recording the conversation.

The call features numerous racist remarks, threats of violence toward the staff and even a death threat. The recording goes on for more than four and a half minutes.

The staff claimed they later found the phone in a menu while they were setting up for dinner, and it was then returned to the couple.

Loeb's social media accounts and references to her work with the Greater Memphis Chamber were all deleted from the Internet as of Friday. References of Joe Marelle and his work with Tobacco Superstores, Inc. have also been removed.

FOX13 went to the last known address for Loeb. The door was locked, and her name was not listed on the building's registry.

We reached out to Loeb Properties. They said they are working on sending us a statement. However, they did make a post to their Facebook account, claiming Lauren Loeb is not affiliated with the company.

Loeb Properties strongly condemns the language and sentiment of the reprehensible recording that has been widely distributed in the press. The individuals involved are in no way associated with Loeb Properties.

Posted by Loeb Properties on Friday, April 14, 2017

We also reached out to Tobacco Superstores, Inc. The company's 'Contact Us' page has been scrubbed. However, we found an e-mail and phone number and have left messages requesting a comment.