GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) -- A DC pastor allegedly bought 39 cars, including a Tesla, and a property in Baltimore with CARES Act funds, a federal complaint says.
Rudolph Brooks Jr. of Cheltenham, Maryland was charged with federal wire fraud and the government can seize more than $2.2 million held in various bank accounts as well as a 2018 Tesla Model 3.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was enacted in March 2020, was supposed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of struggling Americans who've lost jobs or other suffered other economic consequences of the pandemic. Up to $659 billion in forgivable loans were given to small businesses for employee retention and certain business expenses.
The funds must be used on payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.
Brooks, who's the pastor and founder of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, owns Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob's Motors. The affidavit alleges that on May 9, Brooks applies for a PPP loan on behalf of Cars Direct in the amount of $1,556,589. In support of this ask, Brooks allegedly submitted fraudulent tax forms, reporting $724,469 in payments via Forms 1099-MISC and $7,471,630 in total unemployment payments to employees.
IRS records however do not reflect any tax filings made by Cars Direct for any tax period, meaning they don't have employees.
Additionally, the Maryland Department of Labor has no record of Cars Direct paying wages or of Brooks receiving wages.
Then Brooks allegedly submitted a EIDL loan application on April 7, 2020 on behalf of Cars Direct that contradicted information in the PPP loan application, the affidavit said. This EIDL loan stated the company's gross revenue was $148,000 and cost of goods sold was $82,293 in the year prior to the pandemic.
The Cars Direct PPP loan was approved for $1,556,589 on May 9, 2020 and deposited into one of Brooks bank accounts. Brooks allegedly opened another bank account by name of Payroll by BJM and transferred $500,000 to it. Feds say although the account exists, no payroll or payroll related expenses were paid from this account. Brooks allegedly opened additional accounts in the name of Cars Direct into which he transferred PPP loan funds.
Records revealed that Brooks allegedly used the PPP funds for" personal expenditures including credit card bills, purchases at restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and automotive auctioneers, and mortgage payments for Brooks' Cheltenham residence," according to a press release.
Brooks also allegedly used the PPP funds to buy 39 use automobiles, including a 2017 Mercedes Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2018 Tesla Model 3, a 2014 GMC Yukon XL and several older model luxury vehicles.
The purchase of the vehicles is not an "appropriate use" of the loan funds, under the PPP loan terms.
Brooks then initiated a wire transfer from his personal account to Tesla Motors for $60,407 on July 30, 2020 in order to purchase a 2018 Tesla Model 3. "Rudolph Brooks" was listed as a customer for this vehicle and a DC driver's license of a close relative of Brooks was on file. Maryland records show that the Tesla was registered in Brooks' name at his Cheltenham home.
Brooks then initiated two more wire transfers on August 13, 2020 from one of the Cars Directs accounts for $144,343 and $2165 to a title company regarding a property in Baltimore, Maryland. Real estate deeds show the Baltimore property was purchased by Madaro, LLC for $148,500. Madaro was registered with DC on Aug. 8, 2019 as Brooks is listed as a resident agent for the company.
Brooks then executed an auction contract of sale on June 18, 2020 to purchase the property.
The feds are authorized to seize up to $2,296,136.86 from eleven bank accounts and the 2018 Tesla Model 3.
If convicted, Brooks faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud followed by three years of supervised release.
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