Restaurants branded with the name of soul singer Gladys Knight have been raided by Georgia authorities as the music legend's son stands accused of tax fraud.
Agents with the Georgia Department of Revenue raided all locations of Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles as well as the company headquarters on Tuesday.
Her son, Shanga Hankerson, who runs the business, is accused of stealing more than $650,000 in sales and withholding taxes owed to the state.
The state alleges Hankerson stole the money for his personal use. After penalties and interest, the total exceeds $1 million, officials said.
As part of the raids, the officials tried unsuccessfully to arrest Hankerson.
Gladys Knight is not suspected of any criminal activity.
A voicemail box for the company's corporate office was full. Hankerson did not immediately reply to an email asking for comment.
However, Knight's spokesperson did issue a statement Wednesday in which the Empress of Soul distanced herself from the alleged fraud and the company as a whole.
"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," a rep for Knight said in a statement.
"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.”
“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,” Herlovich said.
According to the company's website, Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles has three locations in and near Atlanta.
The Georgia Department of Revenue statement said the locations should be open and running soon.
“It is never The Department of Revenue’s primary goal to shut down a business,” said Josh Waites, Director, of Office of Special Investigations. “We are working with Mr. Hankerson’s attorney to have the business up and running again as soon as possible."