Judge Sentences Son Of Gladys Knight To Prison Over Payroll Taxes At Chicken And Waffles Restaurant

Judge Sentences Son Of Gladys Knight To Prison Over Payroll Taxes At Chicken And Waffles Restaurant


Judge Sentences Son Of Gladys Knight To Prison Over Payroll Taxes At Chicken And Waffles Restaurant Photo: Clayton County Sheriff's Office

Shanga Hankerson, the son of soul music legend Gladys Knight, has been sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay $1 million for willful failure to remit payroll taxes for a restaurant he ran.

Employees of the restaurants said that Hankerson spent money from his businesses on sex parties and weed, the Atlanta Journal Consitution reported.

Hankerson is the former owner of the Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurant in Atlanta. He was sentenced on Nov. 5 for failing “to remit payroll taxes,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. On July 21, Hankerson had pleaded guilty.

Singer Knight first made a name for herself as a member of the family group, Gladys Knight and the Pips in the ’60s and ’70s, whose hits included “Midnight Night Train To Georgia.” She later became a solo artist and had a string of hits including “Love Overboard” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”

Hankerson was the sole business owner of the establishment that he started in 1997, even though it bore the name of his famous mother, Black Enterprise reported. He opened locations in northern Georgia and Washington, D.C. 

Knight, 77, was in a messy legal battle with her son over the restaurants and ultimately had to sue him in 2016 to remove her name and likeness from his businesses, Daily Mail reported. 

“Hankerson willfully disregarded his tax obligations for many years,” acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said in a statement. “Payroll taxes fund social insurance programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and are a large source of revenue for the federal government. Employers who fail to comply with their legal obligations will be held accountable.”

Hankerson, 45, was sentenced to two years in prison and one year of supervised release. He will also have to pay back $1,039,310.65 for failing to fully remit payroll taxes from 2012 to 2016.

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“Paying taxes is a way to give back to the community, but unfortunately, Hankerson chose to use those funds for other means,” IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey said in a statement. “This sentencing emphasizes that all employers, big and small, have equal responsibility to collect, report, and pay over their payroll taxes.”

Hankerson was arrested in 2016 over the tax issue, and the Georgia Department of Revenue shut down three of his chicken and waffles restaurants. 

The IRS initiates criminal investigations against less than 2 percent of all U.S. taxpayers. Aabout 20 percent of those face criminal tax charges or fines. In 2020, 593 people were sentenced for tax crimes in the U.S.