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Kevin Fleming, Lewes photographer, indicted on felony tax evasion

Local businessman faces possible prison time, hundreds of thousands in fines
November 6, 2019

Kevin Fleming, a Lewes photographer who operates photo galleries in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, was indicted Nov. 5 on 16 counts of felony tax charges in U.S. District Court.

Fleming, who once worked for National Geographic and who has published numerous coffee table books featuring Delmarva wildlife and scenes, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 16 counts of tax evasion.

Fleming also operates Kevin Fleming Inc. in Lewes and has sold photographs from a Rehoboth Beach business on Rehoboth Avenue for years. 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 income listed in the indictment is:

• $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.

Each of the 16 counts is punishable by a maximum penalty of 5 years’ incarceration, a $250,000 fine and restitution for unpaid taxes.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski.

Fleming's photo gallery on Rehoboth Avenue had a closed sign in the door on Nov. 6, but otherwise looked like it is still in business. His Lewes studio closed about a year ago. The space is now occupied by a children’s clothing store that opened in May 2018.

Fleming has a court appearance at 1 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.

Carl Kanefsky, spokesman for the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, said the state generally defers to the federal government in federal tax evasion cases. “Whether or not the state would pursue separate, additional state charges would depend on many factors, including the resolution of the federal case,” he said.

Renowned photographer

Fleming's website lists his photographic accomplishments including images he captured in 1981 when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated. He worked for National Geographic for a decade, before leaving to concentrate on creating books, the website states.

“Wild Delmarva” and “The Beach” are two of the 23 coffee table books produced over the years. A current photo display at The Biggs Museum in Dover features some of his photos taken locally, and the promo refers to Fleming as an icon. A link to a CBS segment on Fleming taken in 2014 sits prominently on Fleming's website homepage.

Fleming could not be reached for comment.