A D.C. pastor who received more than one million dollars in coronavirus relief funds has been charged with federal wire fraud for falsifying documents relating to his application for the funds. Further, the pastor used the money to allegedly purchase 39 cars, one of which was a Tesla, and a house in Baltimore.
CBS Baltimore reported that Rudolph Brooks Jr., of Cheltenham, Maryland, may have more than $2.2 million seized as well as his 2018 Tesla Model 3. Brooks is accused of obtaining the money after the first coronavirus relief bill — the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) — was enacted in March 2020. The bill was intended to provide financial assistance to those who had lost their jobs when governors across the country shut down businesses that they claimed would spread COVID-19 and were not essential. The CARES Act provided up to $659 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses that were hurt by the government orders in order to pay their employees. The funds were meant to be used on essential expenses, such as payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities
“Brooks, who’s the pastor and founder of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, owns Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob’s Motors. The affidavit alleges that on May [sic] 9, Brooks applies [sic] for a PPP loan on behalf of Cars Direct in the amount of $1,556,589. In support of this ask, Brooks allegedly submitted fraudulent tax forms, reporting $724,469 in payments via Forms 1099-MISC and $7,471,630 in total unemployment payments to employees,” CBS Baltimore reported.
The outlet found that IRS records show Cars Direct did not make any previous tax filings and don’t have employees. Maryland’s Department of Labor also had no records of Cars Direct paying wages to Brooks or anyone else.
On April 7, 2020, Brooks submitted a Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) — this was before he applied for the PPP loan — that contradicted the information submitted for his PPP loan application, a federal affidavit said. This loan claimed Cars Direct’s gross revenue was $148,000 and sold $82,293 worth of goods in 2019.
Brooks’ PPP loan was approved on May 9 for $1,556,589 and deposited into one of his bank accounts. He opened another bank account and named it Payroll by BJM, but the account was not used for payroll. Brooks is also accused of opening other bank accounts to transfer some of the PPP loan money.
“Records revealed that Brooks allegedly used the PPP funds for” personal expenditures including credit card bills, purchases at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and automotive auctioneers, and mortgage payments for Brooks’ Cheltenham residence,” according to a press release,” CBS Baltimore reported. “Brooks also allegedly used the PPP funds to buy 39 use automobiles, including a 2017 Mercedes Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2018 Tesla Model 3, a 2014 GMC Yukon XL and several older model luxury vehicles.”
Brooks is not the only person who defrauded the coronavirus relief programs. As The Daily Wire reported in September, others used funds to purchase Rolex watches, Rolls Royces, and other luxury items. The Daily Wire also reported in late December on numerous other frauds and scams related to PPP loans.