A Washington, D.C. pastor has been accused of defrauding a lifeline for businesses struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic to finance a lifestyle of decadence for himself.
According to the Washington Examiner, Rudolph Brooks, Jr., has been charged with federal wire fraud for purchasing nearly 40 — yes, 40 — cars, a piece of property, and sundry other expenses, all with a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the crooked priest filed phony tax forms on behalf of a defunct automotive business that he owns to secure $1.5 million in federal aid.
Pastor charged with fraud
With this pot of money, Brooks was said to have splurged on 39 used cars, CBS Baltimore reported, including a 2017 Mercedes Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2018 Tesla Model 3, and a 2014 GMC Yukon XL, as well as several other older model luxury vehicles.
He also allegedly used the taxpayer money to pay the mortgage on a Maryland property, as well as “credit card bills, purchases at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and automotive auctioneers,” the Justice Department said.
Brooks, who is the pastor and founder of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, owns Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob’s Motors, which has reportedly been inactive since 2012.
He brought it back after Congress passed the CARES Act, which established the $695 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help struggling small businesses cover payroll and other expenses. Last May, Brooks applied for a PPP loan, the Examiner reported.
But the information Brooks gave did not match an April 2020 application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), a type of loan for businesses hit by disasters that was expanded after the pandemic, according to CBS Baltimore.
Decades behind bars?
The source of the discrepancy: Brooks allegedly fabricated tax information to make it appear that he had an active payroll. “However, as detailed in the affidavit, IRS records do not reflect any tax filings made by Cars Direct for any tax period, indicating that Cars Direct has not hired employees or paid unemployment taxes,” the DOJ said.
Federal authorities have been authorized to seize more than $2.2 million in his assets, and a 2018 Tesla Model 3.
“The affidavit in support of the seizure warrants alleges that these funds and vehicle constitute or are derived from the proceeds traceable to false statements made on bank loan applications,” the DOJ said.
Brooks was arrested on April 2. He faces up to 20 years in federal lockup.