Federal authorities have arrested the pastor of a Washington, D.C., church, charging him with fraudulently obtaining more than $1.5 million from the coronavirus-related Paycheck Protection Program. They allege that he bought 39 used luxury automobiles and property in Baltimore.

Rudolph Brooks Jr., 45, of Cheltenham, Md., was charged with wire fraud. The criminal complaint was filed March 29 and unsealed after Brooks’s arrest on April 2.

Brooks is the founder and pastor of Kingdom Tabernacle of Restoration Ministries in the 1700 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE. According to the complaint, he also identified himself as the owner of Cars Direct by Gavawn HWD Bob’s Motors in Cheltenham.

Authorities say Brooks opened the car-selling business in 2010, but shut it down two years later. Brooks then allegedly revived the business in May 2020, shortly after the federal government approved the Cares Act, which authorized up to $659 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for employee retention and certain business expenses to help them provide employee paychecks during the pandemic.

Authorities say on May 9, Brooks applied for a $1.5 million PPP loan on behalf of Cars Direct and allegedly submitted fraudulent business tax forms supporting his application. After Brooks was approved, authorities say he transferred the funds to his personal bank account and bought 39 used vehicles, including a 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, two 2017 Infiniti Q50s, a 2015 Cadillac Escalade, a 2005 Bentley Continental and a 2018 Tesla Model 3.

In August, federal authorities say Brooks initiated two wire transfers of more than $145,000 to a title company regarding a property purchase in Baltimore. Authorities said Brooks then tried to apply for two additional PPP loans.

Authorities seized more than $2.2 million from 11 bank accounts. If convicted, Brooks faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

On the church’s recently deleted Facebook page was the motto: “We’re feeding & clothing the homeless & needy.”

The charges and arrest seizures were announced by acting U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan Lenzner.

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