Investigators: Vinings doctor fakes church to evade taxes on millions

A Vinings doctor who created his own church to pay for his multimillion-dollar mansion, his kids’ private schooling and online dating fees has now been charged with tax evasion on millions in income, federal authorities said.

Dr. Michael Jon Kell, 66, was arraigned on counts of tax evasion and other charges related to a two-decade scheme to hide more than $2 million he funneled through his church, the First Meliorite Church, according investigators.

“Kell claimed a vow of poverty, but allegedly funneled over $2 million through a church he controlled to avoid paying income taxes on the money he earned,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “With the deadline for filing your 2015 tax return only days away, we urge citizens in our district to think twice about the potential consequences of not truthfully reporting their income and paying their taxes.”

According to U.S. Attorney’s office, Kell was no longer practicing as a doctor, but earned millions of dollars over the years from various inventions and consulting fees.

To hide the income, Kell served as a pastor of his church and donated much of his income to the church. The church’s accounts were under Kell’s exclusive control, and covered all of his personal expenses, investigators said, including overseas trips, restaurant meals, expensive clothing, online dating services and private school tuition.

Investigators said Kell also transferred ownership of his Vinings mansion several times among organizations he created to stay ahead of the IRS and other creditors.

This was not Kell’s first brush with the law.

In 2001, a Fulton County judge found Kell guilty of Medicaid fraud and tax evasion for for ordering up to three full drug screens a week for clients at his methadone clinic, at $200 a test. The costly tests were repeatedly ordered even though most patients' results were negative, according to the Georgia Attorney General's office.

That money, too, was funneled through the non-existent First Meliorite Church, then located at Kell’s medical office, according to the state attorney general.