ATLANTA — Georgia music legend Gladys Knight’s son was sentenced to two years in prison Friday for failing to submit payroll taxes when he owned “Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles” restaurant.
Shanga Hankerson who owned the restaurants was convicted in July on charges that he had not submitted over $1 million in payroll taxes that he had owed the government while running the then successful restaurant chain.
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“Hankerson willfully disregarded his tax obligations for many years,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine. “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.”
“While ownership of a well-known restaurant in our community has its perks, it also comes with great responsibility,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James Dorsey. “Paying taxes is a way to give back to the community, but unfortunately Hankerson chose to use those funds for other means. This sentencing emphasizes that all employers, big and small, have equal responsibility to collect, report, and pay over their payroll taxes.”
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Channel 2 Action News reported that Georgia Department of Revenue agents raided the midtown restaurant in June 2016. The state said at the time that Hankerson owed them over $650,000 from the three Chicken and Waffles restaurants.
Knight had lent her name to her son’s restaurant but was not involved with any of the daily operations. A lawsuit forced Hankerson to remove her name shortly before the popular Chicken and Waffles shop closed for good in 2017.
Federal investigators said Hankerson had not been withholding Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes which cover Social Security and Medicare taxes along with federal income taxes.
They said because Hankerson was the sole owner of the restaurants he had the responsibility to collect those monies From at least 2012 through 2016, he did not collect them.
Hankerson was sentenced to two years in prison, one year of supervised release and he has to repay $1,039,310.65 which according to the Internal Revenue Service, was what he owed them.
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