A DoJ official said forced labor was ‘heinous conduct’ after a Louisiana man was jailed for making minors bake and sell brownies 7 days a week


The minors were forced to bake and sell brownies.Getty Images

  • A Louisiana man was jailed for forcing minors to work long hours baking and selling brownies.

  • The Department of Justice said Friday that Darnell Fulton was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

  • A DoJ official said forced labor was “heinous conduct” and would not be tolerated.

A Department of Justice official said forced labor was “heinous conduct” and would not be tolerated after a Louisiana man who made children bake and sell brownies seven days a week was sentenced.

Darnell Fulton, 39, of Pineville, Louisiana, used violence, sexual abuse, withholding of food, degradation and intimidation to force multiple minors to work for him between June 2016 and May 2019, the DoJ said in a statement. He was jailed Friday for 35 years for crimes including conspiracy to commit forced labor.

Three of the minors were his stepchildren, all aged under 16, per court documents reviewed by Insider.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the DoJ’s civil rights division, said: “Forced labour, especially when it involves sexual abuse of children, violence, and mental and physical anguish, is a heinous conduct that has no place in our society today. The defendant mercilessly exploiting children for his own financial gain and personal gratification, and we will not tolerate it.”

“This sentence demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to standing up for the survivors of forced labor schemes. We will not only pursue and prosecute human and child traffickers, but also seek restitution and use those funds to help survivors rebuild and reclaim their lives.”

The minors worked late into the night to bake the brownies. The following day they had to try to sell them at parking lots, restaurants, and offices, the DoJ said.

Fulton also regularly whipped the minors with a belt if he was dissatisfied with their performance or failed to make enough sales, according to the statement.

He pleaded guilty on October 26 and was ordered to pay restitution of almost $980,000 to his victims.

US Attorney Brandon B. Brown for the Western District of Louisiana said the defendant’s actions were “deplorable and despicable,” adding: “Forced labor is a form of modern day slavery and we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable of our society.”

The sentencing comes amid a 37% rise in the number of minors found by the Department of Labor to be employed illegally last year to 3,876, The Financial Times reported.

Legal representatives for Fulton didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside regular working hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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