WASHINGTON (WBTW) – An indictment was unsealed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina charging a restaurant manager from Conway for forcing a man with intellectual disabilities to work.
Bobby Paul Edwards, 52, of Conway has been charged with one count of forced labor.
According to the indictment, Edwards used force, threats of force, physical restraint and coercion, among other means, to compel the victim to work as the buffet cook of J&J Cafeteria in Conway. Edwards managed the restaurant at the time the incidents that reportedly happened between September 2009 and October 2014.
A SLED warrant for Edwards states he beat and tortured the victim with a belt or belt buckle, burned, slapped and choked the employee. The victim reportedly had burn scars as well as other injuries consistent with the alleged abuse. A press release from the McLeod Law Group sent out in 2014 when the original lawsuit was filed also maintains the victim was not paid, allowed work breaks or time off and was deprived of any benefits.
In addition, the press release from the law firm states “defendants ‘maintained’ a bank account for [the victim] to which he was never given access. [The victim] was kept from his family and forced to live in sub-human conditions in a cockroach-infested apartment directly behind the Cafeteria which was owned by Defendants.”
If convicted, Edwards faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution. The case is being investigated by FBI’s Myrtle Beach Resident Agency, according to the press release.