Black man who was enslaved by restaurant manager is owed $546,000

Breanna Robinson
Tuesday 04 May 2021 18:25
news

Bobby Paul Edwards, the restaurant owner, is serving a 10-year prison sentence

(Police handout)

A South Carolina restaurant manager is in prison for enslaving a black man with a learning disability who worked for him.

Bobby Paul Edwards, the restaurant owner, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for forcing John Christopher Smith to work 100-hour weeks in horrid conditions at a restaurant with no pay.

The court said that Smith should get more than the $273,000 he was awarded prior. But now, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is having Edwards pay $546,000 in restitution for his actions.

Smith has been working at the restaurant since 1990 at 12-years-old. It wasn't until 2009 that Edwards began managing the restaurant that payment ceased.

“The defendant stopped paying JCS and began using violence, threats, isolation, and intimidation to compel victim JCS’s continued service,” said prosecutors in a statement for The Department of Justice.

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According to The Washington Post, Edwards moved Smith into a rundown apartment with roaches that he owned. Smith’s attorneys described the apartment’s condition as “harmful to human health.”

Prosecutors also allege that Smith was subjected to various levels of abuse such as verbal racism, beating him with a belt, punching him, hitting him with pots and pans, and burning his bare neck with tongs see get him to work quicker or punish him.

The New York Post also reports that Edwards made Smith work every day in the week with grueling hours. From 6 am to 11 pm Monday through Friday, and 6am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Then there was a moment that Smith underwent more situations of abuse over not moving swiftly enough with food. “Once, when Jack failed to deliver fried chicken to the buffet as quickly as Edwards had demanded, Edwards dipped metal tongs into hot grease and pressed them to Jack’s neck, resulting in a burn that fellow employees had to immediately treat,” the courts allege, according to The New York Post.

Five years later, in the fall of 2014, authorities received complaints about the abuse going on and decided to remove Smith from the scene.

In 2019, Edwards pleaded guilty and ordered to pay $273,000 in unpaid wages and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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