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Washington DC pastor charged in $1.5M PPP loan fraud

A Washington DC pastor has been charged with wire fraud after he allegedly lied to get a $1.5 million loan under the COVID-19 payment protection program and ended up buying a Tesla and a fleet of other used luxury cars.

Rudolph Brooks, Jr., 45, was arrested earlier this month after allegedly faking tax returns and payroll forms for a business that he owns to apply for the loan under the federal government's CARES act.  

Brooks, who is a pastor at Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration, also allegedly tried to fraudulently apply for two other PPP loans that were for $1.8 million and $200,000. 

The fraud wasn't tied to his position at the church.

Following his arrest, the FBI seized $2.2 million in funds from 11 different bank accounts and the Tesla he allegedly purchased using the PPP loan. 

Rudolph Brooks, Jr., 45, was arrested earlier this month after allegedly faking tax returns and payroll forms to apply for the $1.5 million loan under the federal government's CARES act

According to a criminal complaint, Brooks applied for the PPP loan under a Maryland-based car dealership that he owns called Cars Direct.  

Brooks allegedly applied for the $1.5 million PPP loan on May 9 and submitted fake tax and payroll forms related to the dealership.

The forms reported $724,469 in payments and $7,471,630 in total unemployment payments to employees from Cars Direct.  

The FBI, however, said the IRS has not ever received any tax filings for Cars Direct. The Maryland Department of Labor also has no record of Cars Direct ever paying wages or of Brooks receiving wages.

The Cars Direct isn't related to the national dealership of the same name. 

The $1.5 million PPP loan was approved and the funds were transferred into a bank account solely owned by Brooks, the complaint says. 

Brooks is accused of then opening up a bank account under the name Payroll by BJM, which he transferred $500,000 of the loan funds. 

Brooks, who is a pastor at Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration, allegedly used the funds to buy 39 used cars, including a 2018 Tesla Model 3 (stock image above), 

Once the $1.5 million loan was approved and transferred into the Cars Direct bank account, Brooks allegedly transferred funds into his own personal bank accounts

Brooks is accused of making a series of payments to various bank accounts that he owned from the $1.5 million PPP loan

He also allegedly opened up additional bank accounts using the Cars Direct name that he transferred some of the loan funds into. 

Authorities say Brooks transferred money from these Cars Direct accounts into his own personal accounts and used the funds on credit card bills, at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, automotive auctioneers and mortgage payments on his home.

He is alleged to have used the PPP loan funds to buy 39 used cars, including a 2018 Tesla Model 3, a 2017 Mercedes Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental and a 2014 GMC Yukon XL.

The Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration in Washington DC where Brooks is pastor

An advertisement for the church lists Brooks as 'senior pastor'

The FBI cited a July 30 wire transfer from Brooks' personal bank account to Tesla for $60,407 that was allegedly used to purchase a 2018 Tesla Model 3. 

Under the federal government's PPP loan requirements, the funds are to be used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. 

Brooks has been charged with wire fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted. 

Meanwhile, the website and Facebook page of Kingdom Tabernacle, his church, appear to have been taken down.

A cached version of the site described Brooks as 'a man after God's own heart' who has a 'passion for God's people.'

'From an early age Pastor Brooks knew he had a calling for ministry,' the site said.

'People would receive their deliverance before the altar call because the Word of the Lord was so rich in his belly,' it said. 

At a previous church in Maryland, Brooks was the assistant pastor with oversight of the church's finances, according to his biography on the site.  

Brooks has been charged with wire fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted

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