ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News was the only station there as the Georgia Department of Revenue raided Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants in the metro Atlanta area.
Gladys Knight’s son, who runs the operation, is at the center of an investigation involving $1 million.
“Gladys Knight is not accused of any (wrongdoing)? She's totally in the clear?” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne asked Georgia Department of Revenue Special Investigations Chief Jeff Mitchell.
“Totally in the clear, nothing about her. Shanga Hankerson is her son,” Mitchell said.
The Department of Revenue hit all three locations of the signature restaurant -- midtown Atlanta, Lithonia and off of Cascade Road.
Mitchell says neither Knight nor any other restaurant employees face criminal charges. But a warrant is charging Hangerson, the chain’s owner, with felonies, saying not all the money involved is in the warrants but.
“Shanga's accused of stealing over 650,000 in both sales and withholding tax,” said Agent Josh Waites. “(With) penalties and interest, it’s up to over $1 million owed.”
Waites said the raids in search of records cap years of efforts to collect money paid by customers for sales tax or withheld from employees
“We've had over two dozen payment plans with him and he's defaulted on every single one,” Waites said.
Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson says her office has filed a civil anti-racketeering suit to seize assets to recoup the owed taxes.
She told Winne that Gladys Knight's Signature Chicken and Waffles has a business office in Clayton County.
James Boyd told Winne by phone Tuesday that he was a consultant “trying to stabilize the business.”
He said the business is viable and believes they can work something out to satisfy the tax obligations, protect employees and vendors and serve the public.
“The business will go on,” Boyd said.
A Gladys Knight spokesperson told Winne, “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.”
© 2020 Cox Media Group