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4:17-cr-00907-RBH Date Filed 10/21/19 Entry Number 121 Page 1 of 14

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
FLORENCE DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA )


)
vs. ) CRIMINAL NO.: 4:17-CR-00907
)
BOBBY PAUL EDWARDS )
)

GOVERNMENT’S SENTENCING MEMORANDUM

COMES NOW, the United States of America, through undersigned counsel, and submits

this Sentencing Memorandum to assist the Court in this matter. On June 4, 2018, the defendant,

Bobby Paul Edwards, pleaded guilty to one count of Forced Labor in violation of 18 U.S.C. §

1589(a). As described more fully below, the defendant used violence and other means to compel

a cognitively delayed African-American man to perform more than 100 hours of unpaid labor a

week for over five years. Sentencing is scheduled for November 6, 2019. Based on the plea

agreement, the applicable sentencing guidelines, and the undisputed presentence report, the

defendant should be sentenced to 108 to 135 months in prison and ordered to pay $545,905.92 in

restitution.

I. FACTS

A. Background

The J&J Cafeteria is a restaurant located in Conway, South Carolina, and has been owned

and managed for many years by different members of the defendant’s extended family. In 2008,

the defendant’s brother bought the restaurant and placed the defendant in charge of its day-to-day

management and operation, including hiring and managing payroll. The defendant did not have

an ownership interest in the restaurant, though he told people that he was a part owner.

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The victim, who is identified by his initials “JCS,” is an African-American man with

cognitive delays and an IQ below 70, which corresponds to the bottom two percent of the U.S.

population. His intellectual disability – formerly known as “mental retardation” – is

characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. His

achievement skills – such as reading, spelling and math – are on the low end of the third or

fourth grade level. A forensic psychologist determined that JCS has the intellectual

sophistication (“mental age”) of someone between the ages of seven and nine. JCS has difficulty

with reasoning and logical sequencing. Notwithstanding those cognitive limitations, JCS is able

to perform repetitive tasks, such as cooking.

B. JCS’ Unpaid Compelled Labor

JCS began working at J&J Cafeteria part-time as a dishwasher in 1990 at age 12. Over

time, JCS dropped out of school and began working full-time at the restaurant for other members

of the defendant’s family who then owned and operated the restaurant. Unlike the defendant,

those individuals paid JCS for his labor.

In September 2008, when the defendant took over the management and operation of J&J

Cafeteria, he stopped paying JCS. In 2009, the restaurant closed briefly for renovation, during

which time the defendant required JCS haul trash and clean. The defendant continued not to pay

JCS during this time, though he provided JCS with housing.

Following the renovation of J&J Cafeteria, which included the addition of an apartment

behind the restaurant, the defendant directed JCS to move into the apartment.1 From

approximately September 2009 until October 2014, the defendant required JCS to work seven

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JCS initially lived in the apartment alone, but shortly after moving in, a woman, who also
cooked at the restaurant, and her daughter moved into the apartment with JCS.
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days a week. JCS usually worked from around 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. except on Sundays, when the

restaurant closed at 2 p.m. The defendant never provided JCS with a day off. All told, the

defendant compelled JCS to provide approximately 104 hours of unpaid labor per week.

C. Defendant’s Use of Violence and Other Means

When the defendant took over management responsibility for J&J Cafeteria in September

2008, he began using violence, threats of violence, verbal abuse, and threats of arrest to compel

JCS to continue working at the restaurant. In 2011, JCS became the sole buffet cook, at which

point, the defendant’s use of violence increased. On one occasion, when JCS failed to deliver

fried chicken to the buffet as fast as the defendant required, the defendant dipped metal tongs

into hot grease and then placed them against JCS’s neck, resulting in a serious burn. On other

occasions, the defendant whipped JCS with his belt, hit him with kitchen items, such as pans, and

punched him with his fists. The defendant’s assaults primarily occurred in places with limited

visibility, such as in the defendant’s office, the walk-in freezer, JCS’s apartment, or in the “can

wash” areas behind the restaurant. While the abuse was initially sporadic, the defendant used

violence more regularly in the weeks before state authorities removed JCS from J&J Cafeteria in

2014. Almost all of the defendant’s assaults were connected to JCS’ work at the restaurant –

either because the defendant believed JCS worked too slowly or because the defendant believed

JCS had done something wrong.

While some of the defendant’s assaults were witnessed by J&J Cafeteria staff, more

often, the staff heard the assaults as they happened and then JCS’ injuries afterwards. The

defendant never provided JCS with proper medical care for his injuries; instead, J&J Cafeteria

staff offered him some assistance. Following JCS’ removal from J&J Cafeteria in 2014, a nurse

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practitioner treated JCS and observed significant old scarring to JCS’s back and legs consistent

with having been hit by a belt or buckle.

In addition to the physical abuse, the defendant regularly threatened physical harm to

JCS, used disparaging language and racial slurs, and kept him isolated from his family.

Additionally, the defendant, who presented himself as “well connected” within the community,

threatened to have JCS arrested if he failed to work. The defendant sometimes told JCS that a

judge had given him custody of JCS, and that the defendant could have JCS sent to jail if he

wanted.

D. State Authorities’ Recovery of JCS

The defendant continued to compel JCS to provide unpaid labor at J&J Cafeteria until

October 2014, when police and employees with the state department of social services removed

JCS from the restaurant after a waitress’s mother-in-law notified authorities of the defendant’s

abuse. JCS immediately told authorities that he wished to leave, and they removed him from

J&J that day.

E. Defendant’s Failure to Pay JCS

Notwithstanding the long hours that the defendant required JCS to work, he refused to

pay JCS the wages that he earned under the law. During the five-year period, to which the

defendant pleaded guilty, the defendant paid JCS next to nothing. Though the defendant rarely

provided JCS with a payroll check, for the few checks written in JCS’ name, the defendant

required JCS to endorse the checks but did not provide JCS with money. JCS rarely had any

money, apart from occasionally receiving small amounts of money for haircuts or snacks. The

defendant falsely told others, including JCS, that he maintained an account in JCS’ name that

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included tens of thousands of dollars. No such account existed. Based on the number of hours

that JCS worked, the law entitled him to wages of at least $272,952.96.

F. Stipulated Facts

In pleading guilty, the defendant stipulated to and admitted the following facts, which

satisfy all of the elements of 18 U.S.C. 1589(a):

 The defendant used violence, threats of violence, intimidation, isolation, and threats of

arrest, among other means, to compel victim JCS to work as a buffet cook and

dishwasher at J&J Cafeteria for over 100 hours per week, for little to no monetary pay.

 The defendant told JCS and others he was maintaining a bank account in JCS’s name for

JCS’s benefit, but no such bank account exists.

 From approximately September 2009 until October 2014, JCS worked seven days a

week, from around 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Mondays through Saturday, and from 6 a.m.

until 2 p.m on Sundays. JCS worked over 100 hours per week for no monetary pay. The

defendant used violence, threats of violence, verbal abuse, and threats of taking JCS to

jail, in order to compel JCS to continue working at J&J.

 On one occasion, when JCS failed to deliver fried chicken to the buffet quickly, the

defendant dipped metal tongs into hot grease and then placed them against JCS’s neck,

resulting in a burn that required treatment from other employees.

 On other occasions, the defendant whipped JCS with his belt, hit him with kitchen items,

such as pans, and punched him with his fists. The defendant assaulted JCS in connection

with JCS’s work – either because the defendant believed JCS worked too slowly, or the

defendant believed JCS had done something wrong on the job.

 In addition to the physical abuse, the defendant regularly threatened physical harm to

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JCS, used disparaging language and racial slurs, and would not allow JCS to speak with

his family members by telephone or in person at the restaurant.

 Additionally, the defendant threatened to have JCS arrested if he failed to work.

II. PLEA AGREEMENT

Defendant Bobbie Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of Forced Labor on June 4, 2018.

Per the defendant’s plea agreement, he agreed that his base offense level is 22 and that the

following specific offense characteristics and adjustments apply:

+3 Victim held in involuntary servitude for more than one year (§


2H4.1(b)(3))

+2 Vulnerable victim (§3A.1.1(b)(1))

27 Adjusted offense level

-3 Acceptance of responsibility (§3E.1.1)

24 Adjusted offense level

The agreement further provided that the government would argue that the four-level

enhancement for use of a dangerous weapon, pursuant to §2H4.1(b)(2), would apply, bringing

the defendant’s total offense level to 28, and that the defendant reserved the right to argue that it

does not. The plea agreement did not address the enhancement for co-occurring felony pursuant

to § 2H4.1(b)(4)(A).

III. SENTENCING GUIDELINES

United States Probation has calculated the defendant’s sentencing guideline offense level

to be 30, his criminal history level to be category II, and has determined his guideline range to be

108 to 135 months. The government believes that the guidelines calculations determined by the

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probation officer were correctly calculated. The defendant has lodged no objections to this

calculation.

A. Dangerous Weapon

The government agrees with United States Probation that a four-level enhancement for

use of a dangerous weapon pursuant to USSG § 2H4.1(b)(2)(A) should apply in this case.

During his plea, the defendant admitted that on one occasion, when JCS failed to deliver fried

chicken to the buffet, the defendant dipped metal tongs into hot grease and then placed them

against JCS’s neck, resulting in a burn. Furthermore, the defendant admitted that on other

occasions, he whipped JCS with his belt, and hit him with kitchen items, such as pans, and

punched him with his fists. The defendant withdrew his initial objection to the applicability of

this enhancement and will no longer be arguing this point.

It is well established that almost any object can be a dangerous weapon in certain

circumstances. See United States v. Johnson, 324 F.2d 264, 266 (4th Cir. 1963) (holding that

“what constitutes a dangerous weapon depends not on the object's intrinsic character but on its

capacity, given ‘the manner of its use,’ to endanger life or inflict serious physical harm.”). Other

circuits have held that, “in proper circumstances, almost anything can count as a dangerous

weapon, including walking sticks, leather straps, rakes, tennis shoes, rubber boots, dogs, rings,

concrete curbs, clothes irons, and stink bombs.” United States v. Serrata, 425 F.3d 886, 910

(10th Cir. 2005) (quoting United States v. Dayea, 32 F.3d 1377, 1379) (9th Cir. 1994)) (citations

and internal quotation marks omitted).

In United States v. Sturgis, the Fourth Circuit noted that innocuous objects or instruments

may become capable of inflicting serious injury when put to assaultive use. 48 F.3d 784, 787-80

(4th Cir. 1995) (citing to United States v. Riggins, 40 F.3d 1055, 1057 (9th Cir.1994) (finding

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that belt and shoe can be dangerous weapons when used to beat a two-year-old child)); see also

Johnson, 324 F.2d at 266 (metal and plastic chair can be dangerous weapon when held overhead

and brought down on a victim’s head).

Here, a pair of tongs, though not inherently dangerous, certainly became dangerous and

capable of inflicting serious physical harm when the defendant dipped them in boiling grease and

placed them upon JCS’ neck, leaving scars that are visible to this day. Similarly, the pots and

pans, and belt, became dangerous weapons when the defendant used them to beat JCS; though

ordinary items, they became capable of inflicting serious injury. Thus, this enhancement is

appropriately applied.

B. Co-Occurring Felony Offense

The government agrees with probation that the application of the offense adjustment

USSG § 2H4.1(b)(4)(A) for a co-occurring felony offense committed during the forced labor is

applicable in this case. Though not specifically addressed in the plea agreement, the defendant

engaged in conduct to facilitate the Forced Labor offense that constitutes felonies under state

law. See e.g., S.C. Code§ I6-3-600(D)(l)(a) (Assault and Battery 2nd Degree) (punishable by up

to three years imprisonment); S.C. Code § 43-35-85 (Abuse of a Vulnerable Adult) (punishable

for up to five years). Both of these offenses qualify as a felony offense for federal sentencing

purposes, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4Al.2(o), which defines “felony” as “any federal, state, or local

offense punishable by death or a term of imprisonment exceeding one year.” There is no

requirement that the defendant be convicted of the co-occurring felony for the enhancement to

apply. See United States v. Calimlin, 538F.3d 706, 716 (7th Cir. 2008) (upholding the

enhancement for co-occurring felony for the separate offenses of forced labor and alien

harboring stating the offenses are “based on different conduct, and neither necessarily

encompasses the other”); United States v. Callahan, 801 F.3d 606, 628-29 (6th Cir. 2015)
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(upholding the enhancement for co-occurring felony of kidnapping, where the jury’s special

verdict concluded that the forced labor offense included kidnapping); United States v. Grimes,

348 Fed.Appx. 138, 140 (6th Cir.2009) (applying cross-reference to kidnapping where defendant

was not convicted of kidnapping). The defendant did not object to United States Probation’s

application of this enhancement. Accordingly, the Court should apply this enhancement.

C. Vulnerable Victim

All parties agree that the two-level Victim Related Adjustment pursuant to § 3A1.3(b)(1)

applies in this case. Here, JCS’ intellectual disability, limited education, isolation from family,

and the fact that he had never worked for another employer, made JCS particularly vulnerable to

the defendant’s coercive scheme. See United States v. Callahan, 801 F.3d 606, (6th Cir. 2015)

(explicitly recognizing that the cognitive impairment of a victim is a “unique” vulnerability of a

victim that a trafficker could exploit).

D. Involuntary Servitude Greater Than a Year

All parties agree that the Court should increase the offense level by three points, pursuant

to § 2H4.1(b)(3)(A), because the defendant held JCS in a condition of involuntary servitude for

over one year. From approximately September 2009, until his removal from J&J by police and

Adult Protective Services social workers for the Department of Social Services (DSS) in October

2014, JCS worked seven days a week, from around 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Mondays through

Saturday, and from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m on Sundays. JCS worked over 100 hours per week for no

monetary pay, as a direct result of the defendant’s use of violence, threats of violence, verbal

abuse, and threats of taking JCS to jail.

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E. Acceptance of Responsibility

Should the defendant continue to accept responsibility for his crimes, the government

agrees that the defendant should receive a 3-level adjustment for the acceptance of responsibility

pursuant to § 3E1.1(b)(1).

IV. RESTITUTION

As part of his plea agreement, the defendant agreed to pay restitution to the victim, JCS,

pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1593, 3663, 3663A, and 3664, payable immediately and in an amount

as the Court imposes. Restitution in this case is mandated by law.

In accordance with §1593(b)(3), the total restitution order is the sum of the “full amount

of the victim’s losses” and the “value of the victim’s labor as guaranteed under the minimum

wage and overtime guarantees of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.).” 18

U.S.C. § 1593(b)(3). The first part of the calculation – the “full amount of the victim’s losses” –

includes the costs incurred by the victim for services listed in subsections (A) through (F) of 18

U.S.C. § 2259(b)(3). At this time, the government is not in possession of any direct costs

incurred by JCS for any of the services listed in subsections (A) through (F) of 18 U.S.C. §

2259(b)(3).

The second part of the calculation may be fulfilled by calculating the “value of the

victim’s labor as guaranteed under the minimum wage and overtime guarantees of the

Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.).” The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that

the victim receive “net back pay” and “an additional equal amount” of the net back pay as

liquidated damages. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)); see also United States v. Sabhnani, 599 F.3d 215, 259-

60 (2d. Cir. 2010) (upholding the application of liquidated damages as part of mandatory

restitution awards under 18 U.S.C. § 1593, stating that “[l]iquidated damages are not a penalty

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exacted by the law, but rather compensation to the employee occasioned by the delay in

receiving wages due caused by the employer's violation of the FLSA.”).

In this case, Wage and Hour Investigator Robert Kelley Brock of the U.S. Department of

Labor, Wage and Hour Division, calculated the below wages based upon the hours JCS worked

at J&J Cafeteria, as admitted to by the defendant in his plea agreement. Mr. Brock determined

JCS’s net back pay to be $272,952.96.

Mr. Brock calculated the net back pay owed to JCS as follows:

Hours worked Minimum Wage Due Overtime Due


Quarter (104 hours/week x (hrs x minimum (1/2 hrs x minimum Total Owed to JCS
13 weeks/quarter) wage) wage)
3rd 2009 1352 $9,533.20 $2,941.76 $12,474.96
4th 2009 1352 $9,802.002 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
1st 2010 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
2nd 2010 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
3rd 2010 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
4th 2010 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
1st 2011 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
2nd 2011 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
3rd 2011 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
4th 2011 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
1st 2012 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
2nd 2012 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
3rd 2012 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
4th 2012 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
1st 2013 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
2nd 2013 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
3rd 2013 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
4th 2013 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
1st 2014 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
2nd 2014 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
3rd 2014 1352 $9,802.00 $3,016.00 $12,818.00
4th 2014 152 $1,102.00 $3,016.00 $4,118.00
$272,952.96

After adding “an additional equal amount” of the net back pay as liquidated damages, the

total amount owed to JCS as restitution is $545,905.92.3 See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)); see also

2
The federal minimum wage increased during this quarter.
3
In earlier filings, the government erroneously failed to account for liquidated damages required by the statute.

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Sabhnani, 599 F.3d at 259-60. Therefore, the restitution order in this case should be

$545,905.92.

V. SECTION 3553(a) FACTORS

In this case, in light of the nature and circumstances of the offense, the need to afford

adequate deterrence, and the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities, the government

respectfully recommends that a sentence within the guidelines is sufficient but not greater than

necessary to comply with the purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

The defendant deliberately exploited and abused an extremely vulnerable individual for

his own profit. Over a period of at least five years, the defendant used violence, threats, and

other means to compel the victim to provide countless hours of unpaid labor. The defendant

personally profited, while inflicting extreme emotional and physical distress to the victim.

Imposing a sentence within the range suggested by the guidelines would reflect the

seriousness of the Defendant’s offenses, promote respect for the law, and provide just

punishment. As demonstrated above, the defendant’s conduct was egregious and his crime was

serious. Only a significant sentence will promote proper respect for the law and provide just

punishment.

As this case has shown, forced labor can be financially rewarding, especially for

employers who intentionally exploit vulnerable victims. Accordingly, there is a need to deter

other potential employers who are contemplating skirting employment laws and forcibly

requiring individual to work. Because the financial rewards of such crimes can be great, and the

risk of being discovered and punished are easily minimized, in order to deter such crimes the

sentences of those who are successfully prosecuted must be substantial. See United States v.

Hauptman, 111 F.3d 48, 52 (7th Cir. 1997) (strong sentences are necessary to deter crimes that

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are potentially lucrative). Only a strong sentence will negate the incentive to commit such

crimes and the danger that similar crimes will go undiscovered and unpunished. See United

States v. Newmann, 965 F.2d 206, 210 (7th Cir. 1992) (deterrence requires stronger sentences

when a crime is less likely to be detected because potential punishment is discounted by the

improbability of its being imposed).

Finally, this Court must also fashion a sentence that avoids unwarranted sentencing

disparities. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6). In this case, the best way to avoid unwarranted sentencing

disparities is to sentence the defendant within the range suggested by the guidelines. By

“devising a recommended sentencing range for every type of misconduct and every level of

criminal history, the Guidelines as a whole embrace the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing

disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar

conduct.” United States v. Johnson, 445 F.3d 339, 343 (4th Cir. 2006); see United States v.

Clark, 434 F.3d 684, 687 (4th Cir. 2006) (noting that the Guidelines were designed to avoid

unwarranted disparities that existed in the federal criminal justice system).

VI. CONCLUSION

As the foregoing makes clear, the purposes enacted in §3553(a) would be served by a

sentence within the guideline range of 108 to 135 months, and a restitution order for

$545,905.92.

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DATED this 21st day of October, 2019.

ERIC S. DREIBAND
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

By: s/Jared Fishman


JARED FISHMAN
Special Litigation Counsel
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Email: jared.fishman@usdoj.gov
s/Maryam Zhuravitsky
MARYAM ZHURAVITSKY
Trial Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Email: maryam.zhuravitsky@usdoj.gov

SHERRI A. LYDON
United States Attorney
District of South Carolina

By: s/Alyssa L. Richardson


ALYSSA L. RICHARDSON
Assistant U.S. Attorney
1441 Main Street
Suite 500
Columbia, SC 29201
Email: alyssa.richardson@usdoj.gov

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