In federal court this week, North Carolina Pastor Frank Jacobs Sr. pleaded guilty to fraud charges, including providing fraudulent details to receive a pandemic-relief loan. Jacobs, 51, was released on bond and awaits sentencing.
While pastor of Quest Church in Charlotte in April 2020, Jacobs admits he submitted inaccurate information when applying for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Part of the CARES Act, those loans (which could later be forgiven) were intended to support small businesses impacted financially by COVID-19.
Pastor Frank Jacobs Investigated by DOJ
According to court documents, Pastor Frank Jacobs claimed on his PPP application that Quest Church paid more than $135,000 in total wages to five employees—and that the church had withheld federal income tax on those wages. Yet the organization neither reported any paid wages to the IRS nor withheld taxes.
In addition, authorities said Jacobs hadn’t filed individual income tax returns from 2009 to 2013 or from 2015 to 2017, despite receiving letters from the IRS. For tax year 2014, Jacobs now admits he underreported his income and didn’t pay the government “for any tax liabilities.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says Jacobs faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for filing a false tax return. Wire fraud carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
In a March 2021 post on the Quest Church Charlotte Facebook page, district missionary Mother Gladene Garland writes about Pastor Jacobs’ upcoming birthday (citing age 54, which differs from court docs and media reports). She encourages church members to abide by 1 Timothy 5:17 and give “double honour” by blessing the pastor with “$108.00 or your very best seed.” Gifts could be earmarked as “Pastor’s Love Offering” or sent “directly to his cash app.”
Government Takes PPP Fraud Seriously
PPP loans, intended to ease financial hardships caused by the pandemic, came with various eligibility requirements and stipulations. Misuse of those funds has made headlines, especially when church leaders are involved. Last April, D.C.-area Pastor Rudolph Brooks Jr. was charged with fraudulently obtaining $1.5 million in PPP loans, using the money to buy 39 cars.