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Since I cannot restrict the "Empty Trash" option in Google Drive for my Google Apps users would creating one account that is only used to setup as shared folders in drive work? Can I then give all users an edit option to prevent them from accidentally or maliciously deleting files?

This account would always have the file in its trash, correct? Is there any other way?

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If you own the documents and share it with others, there is no way they will be actually able to delete the files. At the Max they will be able to remove it from their sight.

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In Google Drive, only the owner of the file or folder could delete them [1]. Users with edit access to folders could add and remove files from that folder.

By the other hand, users will be the owner of the files and folders created by them until they transfer the ownership to another account. To learn how to transfer the ownership of a file see [2].

It's worth to say that as a Google Apps administrator [3]...

You can restore deleted Google Drive files or Gmail messages for one or more users for a date range you specify. This helps ensure that, if a user accidentally deletes important data, that data is not permanently lost.

Note: If a user removes a file in Drive or deletes a message from the Gmail Inbox, the item moves to the Trash, where the user can easily recover the item. When the user or the system empties the Trash, this actually deletes the item. You can then restore the deleted item.

1. Change your sharing settings - Drive Help
2. Transfer file ownership - Drive Help
3. Restore a user's Google Drive or Gmail data - Google Apps Help

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If you give them edit option, they'll be able to delete the file obliviously. You should try "View" option. And yes in case if they delete the file, you can find it in your trash.

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In Google Drive users with edit permission in a file can't delete it. – Rubén Jun 30 '15 at 20:37

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