A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with wire fraud after federal prosecutors say he misused more than $1.5 million in federal coronavirus relief loans to buy 39 cars and property in Baltimore.
Law enforcement obtained warrants to seize almost $2.3 million held in various bank accounts and a 2018 Tesla Model 3, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The criminal complaint was filed March 29 and unsealed April 2.
Rudolph Brooks Jr., 45, of Cheltenham in Prince George’s County, allegedly applied for and received more than $1.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program money April 7, 2020, for a car dealership he had operated for two years before closing it in 2012.
Brooks is also the pastor and founder of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries, The Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors say Brooks appeared to reopen the dealership May 28 last year, two months after Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act and began doling out loans to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
The Morning Sun
The PPP loan is meant to support businesses and employees who had lost profit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities say that on May 9, Brooks applied for and received a $1.5 million loan on behalf of his business, Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob’s Motors. Brooks allegedly submitted fraudulent business tax forms when he applied for the loan, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Law enforcement says Brooks then transferred the funds from Cars Direct accounts to his personal bank accounts, and spent that money on credit card bills, restaurants, retail stores, mortgage payments and automotive auctioneers.
Authorities say Brooks misused funds to purchase a Tesla, 2017 Mercedes-Benz S Class, two 2017 Infinity Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental, a 2014 GMC Yukon XL and several older-model luxury vehicles.
He also purchased a property in Baltimore for $148,500 in June.
If convicted, Brooks faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
An attorney for Brooks did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.