The United States has filed a lawsuit in federal court, attempting to seize Word Network president Kevin Adell’s $4.4 million Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-home, alleging the radio and TV broadcaster owes almost $18 million in estate and gift taxes, following the death of his father, Franklin Adell in 2006.
The case has received little news coverage outside of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press and Crain’s Detroit Business have covered the story. Journalists reporting on Adell’s legal problems have missed a bigger story: Adell has exploited a loophole in the law, crafted for churches, to avoid disclosing millions of dollars in compensation.
Who is Kevin Adell?
(Screenshot: Kevin Adell being interviewed following Novi city council approval to build the Adell Center.)
Kevin Adell is a broadcaster and serial entrepreneur involved in commercial real estate development. In addition to operating The Word Network, Adell owns talk radio station WFDF and WADL-TV, but not for much longer, as the pending sale of the TV station was announced May 17th and Wikipedia reports the sale price at $75 million.
Adell also owns a massive car collection. In 2019, Hagerty Media revealed that Adell had a “fleet of 100 or so automobiles—plus one special tractor.” Adell is reportedly the only American owner of a Lamborghini Nitro 130 T4i tractor.
Adell’s collection features iconic vehicles from TV shows and movies. According to Hagerty, Adell “owns one Batmobile, one Bat motorcycle, the General Lee Dodge Charger from ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ (minus its rebel flag), Burt Reynolds’ Trans Am from ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ and the faux Ferrari 250GT California Spyder launched off a balcony in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.'”
The case United States of America v. Adell et al was filed on April 24th. According to the complaint, when Franklin Adell died, he left a “gross estate valued at $32,930,891.”
The lawsuit alleges that Kevin Adell owes $9,775,326.65 in unpaid estate taxes and $8,178,714.47 in unpaid gift taxes. The lawsuit claims, “Kevin Adell dissipated the Adell Estate’s assets and knowingly and willfully failed to pay the estate tax liabilities the Adell Estate owed to the United States.”