Federal prosecutors have charged Washington, D.C., pastor Rudolph Brooks, Jr. for fraudulently obtaining more than $1.5 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Brooks, listed as the founder and senior pastor of the Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, Inc. in Washington, D.C., was charged with wire fraud on March 29. He was arrested April 2.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District Maryland accuses Brooks of lying to obtain the money, which he used to buy dozens of cars and make personal purchases—a violation of the PPP’s terms.
Law enforcement seized more than $2.2 million from Brooks’s 11 bank accounts and also 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,” according to a news release.
The complaint alleges that Brooks revived his old car business in May 2020 to apply for the PPP loan. He had allegedly attempted to acquire two additional loans through federal programs meant to keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic.
“In support of the Cars Direct PPP loan application, Brooks allegedly submitted fraudulent tax forms which allegedly reported $724,469 in payments via Forms 1099-MISC and $7,471,630 in total unemployment payments to employees from Cars Direct,” according to the attorney’s office.
Brooks was presumably found out when the IRS and the state of Maryland were unable to verify that his car company had ever filed taxes or even paid wages.
The pastor is said to have used a mix of personal and PPP funds to purchase 39 used cars, including a Mercedes Benz, Cadillac Escalade, Bentley Continental, and numerous other luxury vehicles. Officials say Brooks also used the small business loan for personal expenses, including credit card bills, groceries, and a mortgage.
The Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration D.C. church website, no longer online April 19, describes Brooks as “a man after God’s own heart” who “has a passion for God’s people.” The cached site’s description goes on to describe the pastor’s “intense love for the Lord, relentless spirit and ability to tap into the very heart of God.”
If convicted of wire fraud, the pastor could face up to 20 years in federal prison.