GREENBELT, Md. (7News) — A D.C. pastor used loans meant for COVID pandemic relief to buy a Tesla and a property in Baltimore, according to U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.
Rudolph Brooks Jr., of Cheltenham, Maryland, known as the pastor at Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, faces a federal charge for wire fraud. Federal authorities have also seized $2.2 million from his various bank accounts, along with a 2018 Tesla Model 3.
The federal government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, also known as CARES, Act in March 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created so businesses and employers could use money for rent, paying employees, and utilities.
RELATED | DOJ claims Va. man fraudulently used $2 million from CARES Act to buy Lexus and airplane
According to an affidavit, Brooks didn't use the money he obtained for those things; rather, he used the "fraudulently obtained" $1.5 million to pay for various things "including credit card bills, purchases at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and automotive auctioneers, and mortgage payments for Brooks Cheltenham residence."
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Brooks filed fraudulent tax returns to get the $1.5 million, citing his car dealership as a reason for the PPP. Federal authorities said in actuality, the cost of payroll at Cars Direct was more than $600,000 with ten employees.
Brooks then transferred the money between bank accounts and made the purchases; according to the affidavit, he bought 39 cars, including:
Federal investigators also discovered Brooks used a defunct company to buy property in Baltimore for $148,500.
Further, the affidavit said Brooks also applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, citing his car dealership and Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries.
"Brooks submitted an EIDL loan application to the SBA for the Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries (“Kingdom Tabernacle”). Within the EIDL loan application, Brooks listed himself as the 100% owner of the Kingdom Tabernacle and the primary person of contact," the affidavit said.
Brooks was arrested on March 29.