A pastor from Washington D.C. is facing federal charges after fraudulently obtaining $1.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds, which he spent on personal expenses, including 39 cars.
Pastor Rudolph Brooks Jr., the founder and senior pastor of the Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries in Washington, D.C., was arrested earlier this month and is now facing up to 20 years in prison, The Christian Post reports.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, federal authorities seized $2.2 million that Brooks deposited in various bank accounts as well as a 2018 Tesla Model 3.
Brooks was also accused of using the PPP loans to purchase multiple luxury vehicles, including a 2017 Mercedes-Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2014 GMC Yukon XL, and several other older luxury vehicles.
The expenses, however, do not apply to the loan funds acquired from the federal government's multibillion-dollar coronavirus relief program for small businesses.
Brooks, who is the owner of Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob's Motors, had allegedly applied for a PPP loan of $1,556,589 on behalf of the business on May 9, 2020.
The stated purpose of the company was to buy and sell cars. On October 29, 2010, Cars Direct was incorporated with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). Two years later, Cars Direct was forfeited on October 1, 2012, and subsequently revived on May 28, 2020. Brooks was listed as a resident agent with the SDAT.
In support of his application, Brooks is accused of submitting fraudulent tax forms showing $724,469 in payments and $7,471,630 in total unemployment payments to employees of Cars Direct.
An affidavit against the pastor notes that IRS records do not show any tax filings made by Cars Direct for any tax period, indicating that the company has not hired employees or paid unemployment taxes.
The Maryland Department of Labor also found no record of Cars Direct paying wages or Brooks receiving wages.
Brooks also allegedly applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan on behalf of Cars Direct on April 7, 2020. Yet, the application contradicted information and supporting documentation for his submission for Cars Directs' PPP loan application.
On the EIDL application, Brooks alleged that Cars Direct's gross revenue was $148,000, and the cost of goods sold was $82,293 in the one-year period before COVID-19 was declared a disaster.
On May 9, 2020, Brooks' PPP loan application for $1,556,589 was approved and later was deposited into a bank account that listed him as the sole signer. The pastor had also created multiple accounts under Cars Direct's name into which he transferred PPP loan funds.
One of the accounts Brooks made was named Payroll by BJM to give off the appearance that his account is associated with a payroll company.
Brooks had also initiated numerous transfers of PPP loan funds from the Cars Direct accounts to his personal bank accounts. Records showed that the loans were used for personal expenses, including credit card bills, purchases at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, automotive auctioneers, as well as using them for mortgage payments on the pastor's Cheltenham home.
According to Brook's church website, he is described as "a man after God's own heart and has a passion for God's people."
In an interview with The Impact's Robin Dorsey on WBGR in 2018, Brooks explained that he was aware of God's calling on his life when he was about 4 or 5 years old. He also noted that he was raised in the church and that his father was a minister.
Photo courtesy: Vlad Tchompalov/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.