Washington, D.C. pastor accused of fraud, buying Tesla in PPP loan scheme

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Federal prosecutors are planning to seize millions of dollars and a luxury car from a Washington, D.C. pastor after he got funding in 2020 from Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to help small business.

Rudolph Brooks Jr, the pastor of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration, has been accused of submitting fraudulent information to the Payroll Protection Program with a business registered in Maryland under his name. The program is a loan designed by the federal government to encourage revenue-losing businesses to keep their workers on payroll amid business closures during the pandemic. Warrants were obtained to seize $2.2 million from Brooks’ bank accounts and a 2018 Tesla Model 3, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Maryland. Brooks, 45, was arrested on April 2.

The office claims Brooks applied for a PPP loan on behalf of a car purchasing and selling company under his ownership, Cars Direct. The government requires the PPP funds be used to pay employees, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, but prosecutors say Brooks enriched himself. The pastor is also accused of attempting to obtain additional funding from the program on at least two other occasions.

After getting the money Brooks transferred some of the money into a bank account he set up in the name of Payroll by BJM. The account wasn’t associated with any payroll or payroll-related expenses, prosecutors say. The belief that this account was opened because it “creates the appearance that the account is associated with a payroll company,” according to the press release.

Some money was transferred to personal bank accounts as well, according to the complaint. Brooks allegedly made payments on his credit card bills, at restaurants, grocery stores and auto auctioneers. Money was used to buy dozens of used cars, including the Tesla, a Mercedes Benz and Cadillac Escalade among others, prosecutors claim.

Warrants have been issued for the seizure of Brooks’ accounts as well as the Tesla. Should Brooks be convicted, he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison for wire fraud.

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