A string of unfortunate summertime mishaps is sending famed singer Gladys Knight packing from the restaurant business, and suing her flesh and blood in the process.
Back in June, WSB-TV reported that Georgia Department of Revenue agents raided three Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken & Waffles locations, seizing files related to an investigation of Knight’s son, Shanga Hankerson, who runs the Atlanta-based restaurant chain.
Now, the Empress of Soul is filing a lawsuit against Hankerson for stealing from under her nose, exiting the food industry in the process. According to Law360, the suit, which was filed in Georgia federal court on Monday, alleges unlawful use of the singer’s name, likeness, and memorabilia.
“Shanga’s accused of stealing over 650,000 in both sales and withholding tax,” Josh Waites, an agent with the Department of Revenue, told WSB-TV in June. “[With] penalties and interest, it’s up to over $1 million.” According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Knight's son would go onto use that money to "finance a voracious marijuana habit and sex parties," flying women into the city from out of town.
Hankerson was arrested and released on bail after the raids, and at the time Jeff Mitchell, the special investigations chief on the case, claimed that Knight was “totally in the clear” of any crime. Though the singer gave Hankerson permission to use her image back in 1999, the new lawsuit seeks to remove her name from the chicken and waffles joint entirely.
“The complaint alleges that the restaurants are unlawfully using Knight’s intellectual property in promoting and operating themselves even though Knight terminated an agreement allowing them to use her name, likeness, photos and costumes,” Law360 reports.
Though in June Knight seemed to express concern over her son’s arrest, over the last few months, relations must have soured.
“As always, her main concern is for her family’s well-being,” a spokesperson for Knight told WSB-TV, “and she is making sure the family has the guidance they need to assess the situation and move forward.”
Apparently Knight assessed the situation, and decided she didn’t want any part of it.