Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles, an Atlanta dining institution that features Southern favorites and is named after the famed singer, was raided on Tuesday after Georgia’s Department of Revenue accused the owner — Knight’s son — of theft and tax evasion.
Shanga Hankerson, Knight’s son and 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, the agency said in a news release.
“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 executed search warrants at the three restaurant locations and a corporate office in Riverdale, Georgia, and “unsuccessfully attempted to serve arrest warrants on Shanga Hankerson … at his home,” the agency statement said.
Hankerson was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Tuesday as authorities negotiated terms of his surrender to Georgia authorities, according to the agency’s special investigation director, Josh Waites.
Revenue officials seized Hankerson’s bank accounts and three luxury vehicles, Waites said.
CNN called the office of Hankerson’s Atlanta tax attorney, Josie Walton-Harris. A receptionist issued a statement of “no comment.”
“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.
This is not the first time Hankerson has been in hot water over taxes, agency spokesman William Gaston told CNN.
“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.
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SOURCE: CNN – Mayra Cuevas