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Posted under: News

White Ex-Restaurant Manager Imprisoned For Enslaving Mentally Disabled Black Man, Finally Ordered To Pay Up

And he'll be paying double in restitution.

Bobby Paul Edwards, a former South Carolina restaurant manager who's serving a 10-year prison sentence for forcing a Black man with intellectual disabilities to work more than 100 hours a week without pay, is now ordered to pay $546,000 in restitution. 

According to The Post and Courier, Edwards was initially told to pay $273,000 during his sentencing in 2019. But he is now required to provide double the amount to John Christopher Smith, the man he abused. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling this month, citing a federal labor law which allows Smith to receive compensation for the overtime he worked. 

The former manager of the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina pleaded guilty for failing to pay any wages to Smith from 2009 to 2014, as Blavity previously reported. Prosecutors said the white manager also forced the Black employee to work seven days a week and subjected him to racial epithets. 

Adding to the harrowing details, the 53-year-old is accused of beating Smith with a belt, punching him, hitting him with pots and pans, as well as burning his neck with hot tongs. Authorities arrested the manager and charged him with assault and battery after social workers heard about the abuse in 2014.

Federal prosecutors appealed the initial restitution decision, saying Smith is entitled to a larger amount because of the delay in getting his pay under federal labor laws. The court cited the federal labor law while agreeing with prosecutors.

″(W)hen an employer fails to pay those amounts (regular and overtime pay), the employee suffers losses, which includes the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay,” the ruling states.


Smith opened up about the incident when he spoke with WPDE in 2017. The South Carolina resident said he started working at the cafeteria at the age of 12, serving as a dishwasher. He went on to work for 23 years at the establishment. But Edwards, who took over as manager six years after Smith started working at the cafeteria, allegedly abused the employee for 17 years. 

"I wanted to get out of there a long time ago," Smith told WPDE. "But I didn't have nobody I could go to."

The former employee adds that he was forced to live in a room behind the kitchen and blocked from seeing his own family.

"I couldn't go anywhere. I couldn't see none of my family so that was that," he said. "That's the main basic thing I wanted to see was my mom come see me. I couldn't see my mom and I couldn't talk to nobody."

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