Skip to main content
Press Release

Doctor sentenced for over $2 million in tax fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia

ATLANTA – Dr. Michael Jon Kell, was sentenced to federal prison after a two-decade scheme to funnel millions of dollars in assets through a church he created to evade filing federal taxes.

“Despite earning millions of dollars and living a lavish lifestyle, Dr. Kell failed to file tax returns for several years when he falsely asserted that he was a minister under a vow of poverty,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The defendant will now be held accountable for evading his tax obligations.”

“Kell thought he could outsmart the IRS and avoid paying his fair share of taxes to the government by hiding his personal wealth behind the doors of a church he created and controlled in an effort to thwart the IRS while living a lavish lifestyle,“ said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. “Taxpayer’s who go to these lengths to evade paying their taxes will be investigated to the fullest extent and referred for prosecution to the Department of Justice in hopes of bringing individuals into compliance with the IRS.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Dr. Kell developed numerous patented technologies and worked as a consultant, which generated millions of dollars in income over the years. To hide this income, he founded and was the “pastor” of the First Meliorite Church, which he claimed to be a branch of the Universal Life Church. Dr. Kell directed his substantial income and assets into bank accounts belonging to the church—all of which were under Dr. Kell’s exclusive control. He used these accounts to cover all of his personal expenses—including overseas vacations, dining out, high-end clothing purchases, online dating services, and private school tuition for his children. Dr. Kell also transferred ownership of his multi-million dollar residence in Vinings several times over the years to various entities he created and controlled, in an effort to protect the property from creditors, including the Internal Revenue Service.

Dr. Michael Jon Kell, 68, of Powder Springs, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Eleanor L. Ross to one year, six months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $321,878.40 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and Special Enforcement Program.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynsey M. Barron prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is

Updated October 16, 2018