Officials raided all three Atlanta-area locations of Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles restaurant Tuesday because of a $1 million dollar investigation into the singer’s son, Shanga Hankerson.
Georgia Department of Revenue Special Investigations Chief Jeff Mitchell told WSB-TV the Grammy-winning star herself is not facing any criminal charges nor are any other employees – just Hankerson, the owner. A warrant is charging him with felonies, though they don’t mention all the money involved.
However, Agent Josh Waites told the station, “Shanga’s accused of stealing over $650,000 in both sales and withholding tax. [With] penalties and interest, it’s up to over $1 million owed.” He added authorities believe Hankerson used the money “to fund an extravagant lifestyle.”
The New York Daily News reports authorities tried and failed to serve Hankerson arrest warrants at his home. Meanwhile, the DOR looked into all restaurant locations – downtown Atlanta, Lithonia, Georgia, and Cascade Road – and office headquarters in Jonesboro, Georgia. All restaurants were closed but will be reopened as early as Thursday, according to reporter Mark Winne’s Twitter page.
Waites told WSB the records search is a result of the years spent attempting to collect sales taxes or money withheld from employees.
“We’ve had over two dozen payment plans with him and he’s defaulted on every single one,” Waites said.
Tracy Graham Lawson, Clayton County District Attorney, said the office filed a civil anti-racketeering lawsuit to seize assets to recover the owed taxes.
However, consultant James Boyd told the station he was working to “stabilize the business.”
He noted the business is viable and believes “we can work something out” to protect employees and vendors, satisfy tax obligation and serve the public.
Knight’s representatives gave the following statement to WSB in the matter.
“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.”
See video of the raid below.