Former owner of Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles to serve 2 years

The former owner of the Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles restaurant in Atlanta —and the singer’s son — has been sentenced to federal prison for failure to remit payroll taxes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

Shanga Hankerson, 45, of Atlanta, was sentenced to serve two years in prison, one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $1,039,310.65, acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said. Hankerson pleaded guilty July 21.

“Hankerson willfully disregarded his tax obligations for many years,” Erskine said in an emailed 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.”

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In 1997, Hankerson opened his first restaurant, Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles, in Atlanta and then expanded to other locations. As the employer, Hankerson’s companies were required to withhold federal taxes from employees, according to prosecutors.

From at least 2012 to 2016, Hankerson failed to fully remit more than $1 million in payroll taxes due, according to the U.S. Attorney

“While ownership of a well-known restaurant in our community has its perks, it also comes with great responsibility,” IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent James E. Dorsey said. “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 their payroll taxes.”

In June 2016, the Georgia Department of Revenue shut down Hankerson’s three restaurants and he was arrested. The following month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Hankerson’s employees told investigators he used the money for sex parties and marijuana.

Knight also sued Hankerson, who was ordered to remove her name and likeness from his businesses.