‘Racist’ white diner boss in prison for ‘enslaving’ disabled black worker has doubled fine for restitution
Bobby Paul Edward, 56, may have to pay double in restitution for enslaving a mentally retarded black man and making him work without pay
An alleged racist restaurant owner who enslaved a disabled black worker for four years has been ordered to pay his victim double the previously established fine of $ 273,000.
An appeals court ruled last month that Bobby Paul Edwards, who ran the J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina, would now have to pay John Christopher Smith, 43, $ 546,000 in withheld wages and damages.
The Fourth Circuit judge who increased the amount of restitution ruled that the fine imposed on Edwards as part of a 2019 plea deal, which also included a 10-year jail sentence, was insufficient.
The judge entered into a quarrel court documents obtained by the Daily Mail that the original amount included only the unpaid minimum wage and compensation for overtime, but not ‘an additional amount equal to compensation’, as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which doubles the amount paid back to victims such as Smith who have been exploited by their employers.
In its 2019 decision, the court concluded that Edwards, now 56, paying the additional $ 273,000 would be “ legal punitive damages ” available only in civil cases.
The government then appealed that decision, and the appeals court is now returning its ruling to the district court to recalculate Smith’s award.
Pictured in October 2017, John Christopher Smith has a mildly delayed cognitive development and an IQ of 70, and is about to receive a $ 546,000 payout
Smith started washing dishes and washing tables at the Conway restaurant when he was just 12 years old in 1990. Almost 20 years later, the owner began to abuse him.
If the district court ruled that Edwards had to pay the “ equal amount in damages, ” he would owe Smith, now 43, a total of $ 546,000 for the five years he held him in a small room and refused to pay him for his work .
Smith started washing dishes and washing tables at the Conway restaurant when he was only 12 years old in 1990. After just a few years, court documents say, Smith dropped out of high school and started working full-time in the restaurant.
According to court documents, he was happy with his job at the restaurant until Edwards took over the business from his brother in 2009.
It was then that Edwards Smith moved into a cockroach-infested apartment he owned, which Smith described in a ABC 15 interview any more than an office with a bed in it.
He refused to show Smith to his family, threatened to have him arrested, and called him racist insults, according to court documents.
‘I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t see my family, so that was that, “Smith said in the ABC interview in 2015.” That was the main thing I wanted to see was my mother coming to see me. ‘
“I couldn’t see my mother,” he continued, “and I couldn’t talk to anyone.”
It remains unclear how Edwards Smith could have loved his family for so long.
Edwards also used physical violence, threats and intimidation to force Smith, who has a mildly delayed cognitive development, to work more than 18 hours a week and 11 hours on Sundays.
He told Smith, who had an IQ of 70, that his earnings were in a bank account, but he never got access to it.
“I felt like I was in prison,” Smith said in court documents. “Most of the time I felt unsafe, like Bobby could kill me if he wanted to.”
“I wanted to get out of there so badly, but couldn’t think about how I could do that without getting hurt.”
The court documents allege that Smith was beaten with belts and kitchen pans and beaten multiple times.
In one instance, Edwards reportedly thought that Smith was not delivering fried chicken to the buffet as quickly as he demanded, and dipped metal tongs in hot grease, which he then pressed into Smith’s neck.
Smith claimed in the ABC 15 interview that Edwards’ family knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it.
“They knew,” he said. They all knew. They knew what he was doing. ‘
“I think he’s racist,” Smith continued. “But I didn’t know that until now.”
Smith was eventually released in 2014, and local NAACP president Abdullah Mustafa, pictured left with Smith in 2017, tried to find a better place to work for him.
Geneane Caines, a mother-in-law of one of the waitresses, reported the abuse to authorities and now acts as Smith’s attorney
Other restaurant employees were aware of this abuse, according to court documents, but were afraid to report it, until one day in October 2014, when a customer, Geneane Caines, noticed scars on Smith’s body and reported it to authorities.
“Customers who went in there heard things and they didn’t know what was going on,” Caines, who had a daughter-in-law who worked as a waitress at the restaurant, told WMBF, “and they asked the waitresses. , and the waitresses were so scared of Bobby they wouldn’t tell them what it was. ‘
Smith was accepted into the Adult Protective Services immediately after the report and Caines and local NAACP president Abdullah Mustafa worked to find him a new job. Caines also acted as Smith’s attorney in legal proceedings.
“Anyone who is rational and has some sense of logic should realize that once you get the facts here, it should be more than just an attack,” Mustafa told WMBF in 2015.
Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor in 2014, and in 2019 he was ordered to pay $ 273,000 in restitution and serve 10 years in prison.
It remains unclear whether the refund has already been paid. DailyMail.com has contacted the South Carolina and Caines district attorney’s office for further comment.
However, in a statement in 2019, US attorney Sherri Lydon said, “For stealing his victim’s liberty and wages, Mr. Edwards earned every day from his sentence.”
“The US Attorney’s Office does not tolerate forced labor or exploitation in South Carolina, and we are grateful to the vigilant citizen and our law enforcement partners who have brought an end to this particularly brutal violence.”