The son of legendary R&B singer Gladys Knight has been sentenced to two years in prison after he failed to withhold payroll taxes for his restaurants.
Shanga Hankerson was the son of Knight and owned four Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurants in Georgia and Washington DC.
Hankerson, who was also the sole proprietor of the business failed to pay more than $1,000,000 in taxes on payroll between 2012 and 2016.
The defendant pleaded guilty on July 21 to the charges and was sentenced on Wednesday to a term of two years imprisonment.
R&B singer Gladys Knight’s son Shanga Hankerson, 45, was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday after he failed to withhold payroll taxes on Wednesday
Hankerson named the restaurant in honor of Gladys Knight, his mother.
Hankerson, who owned four locations in Georgia and Washington DC, failed to remit more than $1 million in payroll taxes between 2012 and 2016
Hankerson opened Atlanta’s first restaurant in 1997. The three other locations were added over time.
He was also required by his owners to deduct payroll taxes from the gross wages of his employees.
U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine released a statement saying that Hankerson “willfully disregarded his taxes obligations for many years”, in a news release.
Payroll taxes are used to fund Social Security and Medicare programs and provide a significant source of revenue to the federal government.
“Employers that fail to meet their legal obligations are held accountable.”
Wednesday’s sentencing saw him also sentenced to a year in supervised release from his previous prison sentence, and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.
In a statement, James E. Dorsey, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent of Charge, stated that while there are many perks to owning a restaurant well-respected in the community, they also come with great responsibility.
“Paying taxes is one way to give back, but Hankerson chose not to pay those taxes for any other purpose.
“This sentencing highlights that employers large and small have the same responsibility to collect and report payroll taxes and pay them over.
Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation is currently investigating the case.
Hankerson was not alone in facing this legal issue with the restaurant.
Knight won a 2017 legal battle against her husband after she requested to cut all ties with her business in the wake of theft allegations against her son.
Hankerson was directed to give up her likeness and use of memorabilia
Knight, who is 77 years old, previously requested Hankerson to delete her name from the restaurant. Hankerson was accused of taking money from the business in June 2016.
Knight filed the lawsuit in August 2016 demanding damages for Hankerson’s continued use of her name on the restaurant chain, as well as ‘certain proprietary recipes and memorabilia, including Knight’s dresses/costumes and photographs featuring Knight and other celebrities’.
Hankerson had hit back against his mother as he claimed she lacked the ‘mental capacity to rescind the license agreement’ in court papers.
She also tried to contest the suit. Her son claimed that the lawsuit was against a state order because she had received payment for her name being used on the restaurant’s menu and couldn’t void it.
Even requesting that the whole lawsuit be dismissed and that his mother pay the costs of the litigation, he was not satisfied.
In 2017, she won the legal battle against her son to end all ties.
Her son was ordered to stop using her name, likeness and memorabilia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.