Lewes photographer Kevin Fleming entered a not guilty plea Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court on tax evasion charges.
Fleming, who operates a photo gallery on Rehoboth Avenue, was indicted Nov. 5 on 16 counts of felony tax charges including five counts of tax evasion and seven counts of failure to pay employee tax – each count carries a penalty of up to five years incarceration and a fine up to $250,000. Fleming also faces four counts of failure to file tax returns, which carry penalties of one year incarceration and a $100,000 fine for each count.
No date has been set for the next court appearance; the judge ordered that pretrial motions be filed by Monday, Dec. 23. Fleming's attorneys are federal public defenders Conor Wilson and Tieffa N. Harper.
Fleming could not be reached for comment.
Fleming, who once worked for National Geographic and who has published numerous coffee table books featuring Delmarva wildlife and scenes, has sold photographs from a Rehoboth Beach business on Rehoboth Avenue for years. He also operated a photo gallery in Lewes which has since closed. His website states that he has published 23 books over the years featuring his photography.
The indictment states Fleming willfully attempted to evade and defeat federal income tax by diverting funds from his corporate Portfolio Books Inc. account to pay for personal expenses from 2012 to 2016. During an interview with a special agent of the Internal Revenue Service, the indictment states, Fleming told the agent he set up the corporation, but Fleming falsely told the agent that the corporation was not a real entity because it had no employees, assets or bank accounts. Fleming faces five counts of tax evasion in connection with diverting funds from his corporations to pay for personal expenses.
According to the indictment, Fleming did not file a federal tax return for his gross income from 2013 to 2016. He faces four counts of failure to file a federal tax return.
His yearly gross incomes listed in the indictment are:
• $248,348 in 2013
• $279,774 in 2014
• $299,639 in 2015
• $248,593 in 2016
The indictment states Fleming also deducted federal income tax and Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes – known as FICA taxes – from his employees' paychecks, but he kept the money instead of sending it to the IRS.
From 2016 to 2017, the indictments states, Fleming failed to pay quarterly taxes totaling $22,584. He faces seven counts of failure to pay federal employee taxes.