Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles was raided on Tuesday after Georgia’s Department of Revenue accused Knight’s son, Shanga Hankerson of tax evasion and theft.
According to a news release made by the agency, Hankerson, the owner of the three Atlanta-area restaurants, “is accused of stealing over $650,000” in sales taxes and withholding taxes owed to the state of Georgia.
“After penalties and interest the total exceeds $1 million,” the department said.
“The department further alleges that Hankerson used these funds for personal use.”
Department of Revenue agents administered search warrants at all three restaurant locations and a corporate office in Riverdale, Georgia, and “unsuccessfully attempted to serve arrest warrants on Shanga Hankerson … at his home,” according to the agency statement.
Hankerson was out of town at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as authorities negotiated terms of his surrender to Georgia police, according to Josh Waites, the agency’s special investigation director.
Hankerson’s bank accounts and three luxury vehicles were seized, Waites said.
“We are working with Mr. Hankerson’s attorney to have the business up and running again as soon as possible. As soon as a receivership agreement is reached between the state and Hankerson, the restaurant should reopen for business,” Waites said.
The restaurant’s corporate phone line was disconnected. An email inquiry sent to Hankerson received no response.
According to CNN, agency spokesman William Gaston said this is not the first time Hankerson has been in trouble over taxes.
“He has been in over two dozen payment plans and has defaulted on all of them. It extends to 2013. They have all been for sales and withholding tax,” Gaston said.
As far as Ms. Knight goes, her PR rep issued a statement saying
“Gladys Knight lent her name to her son’s restaurants in the Atlanta area, similar to a celebrity endorsement. Ms. Knight was not involved in any way with the operation of the restaurants and she is sure that her son and his business partners will rectify the situation. As always, her main concern is for her family’s well-being and she is making sure the family has the guidance they need to assess the situation and move forward.”