WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSPA) — Federal prosecutors say a man who managed a South Carolina restaurant admitted to using violence, threats and isolation to force an intellectually disabled man to work more than 100 hours a week without pay.
The U.S. Justice Department says Bobby Paul Edwards pleaded guilty to forced labor on Monday.
The 53-year-old Conway man faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will also be required to pay restitution to the victim.
According to court documents, Edwards managed a restaurant in Conway, S.C. from 2009 to 2014.
Authorities say Edwards began managing the restaurant in 2009 where the victim had worked since the age of 12.
Edwards would force the victim to work more than 100 hours per week and stopped paying him.
Prosecutors say Edwards admitted to subjecting the victim to threats, racial slurs – the victim in African American – and even used acts of violence, including beating him with belts, burning his neck with hot tongs and hitting him with pots and pans.
The abuse continued until October 2014. That’s when authorities removed the victim after receiving complaints about abuse.
Edwards will be sentenced at a later date.
The sentencing date has not been announced as of Wednesday. Prosecutors say the amount of restitution that Edwards will be ordered to pay the victim will be determined at his sentencing.
“Human trafficking through forced labor can happen on farms, in homes, and as today’s case shows – in public places, such as restaurants,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore said in a statement. “Edwards abused an African-American man with intellectual disabilities by coercing him to work long hours in a restaurant without pay. Combatting human trafficking by forced labor is one of the highest priorities of this Justice Department and today’s guilty plea reflects our commitment to seeking justice on behalf of victims of human trafficking.”