An ex-doctor who lived in a 4,500-square-foot brick Vinings home with five bedrooms and as many bathrooms once told federal investigators he didn’t have to file taxes because he had taken a “vow of poverty.”
Now, Michael Jon Kell has taken a plea deal and admitted he interfered with the IRS investigation of his alleged wrongdoings.
Kell was 66 years old when he was arraigned two years ago on counts of tax evasion for his alleged two-decade scheme of hiding $2 million by funneling the funds through the tax-favorable church he created, federal court records show.
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The money paid for high-end clothing, dining out, online dating fees, jewelry for his wife and private school education for his children, investigators claimed.
But instead of going to trial on those charges, Kell took a plea deal Wednesday that leaves him facing a maximum of three years in prison and a max fine of $5,000.
One of the two tax evasion charges carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a max fine of $100,000.
Kell, who has been out on bond since April 2016, was at one point set to go to trial in June, documents show.
In fiscal 2016 fiscal, 63 percent of tax fraud offenders were sentenced to prison, and the average sentence length was 15 months, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
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Kell was a medical doctor and patented multiple inventions, according to the indictment.
Part of the money Kell was allegedly siphoning through the First Meliorite Church was the millions he earned from various patented invention royalty and consulting fees.
He was a licensed radiologist in Georgia until 2001, when record show he gave up his medical license.
Kell did so months after a Fulton County judge found him guilty of Medicaid fraud and tax evasion for ordering up multiple needless $200 drug screenings for clients at his methodone clinic, according to state authorities.
Similar to the allegations in his most recent case, Kell moved the money through the First Meliorite Church. At one point, the church’s addresses was registered to the address of Kell’s medical practice.
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In January 2001, officials found that Kell — who claimed he didn’t have to pay income taxes — hadn’t filed a state income tax return since 1995.
In that case, he took a plea deal avoiding prison time, Fulton court records indicate.
In the most recent case, Kell admitted to lying to the IRS during a September 2012 interview.
The church had an independent board of directors who would approve large or unusual expenses, investigators said, but Kell declined to mention that his wife was on the board. He only identified her as a “cook and the housekeeper,” according to the plea deal.
The church was part of the Universal Life Church organization, which ordained Kell as a minister, according to the group’s website. The website said Kell believes people should “practice integrity always.”
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It appears Kell also ran a now-defunct website mindbrainbody.com, which claimed it had tax-exempt status and asked for donations.
A cached version of the website from November 2008 includes a testimonial from Kell:
“The future of our children is in our hands—that is a fact! The exact details depend upon whether or not each of us chooses to utilize our personal and united power for the benefit of the earth or leave it in the hands of a few, plutocratic corporations who care not.”
Kell reported to the IRS that the Vinings home where he lived — the home and land were recently appraised at $1.5 million — was his “parsonage.”
The same day in November 2011 that the IRS sent Kell notes about his outstanding tax debt he transferred ownership of the house from one of his “purported” religious entities to another, according to the indictment.
He sent an investigator a fake IRS letter claiming he had no outstanding taxes, prosecutors said.
Kell is set for sentencing July 11 in federal court.
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