- Flashy Brooklyn Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead was arrested Monday.
- The bishop made headlines in July when he was robbed of expensive jewelry on livestream.
- He claimed his luxe lifestyle came from God. Feds say it was a bit more complicated than that.
The flashy Brooklyn Bishop who was robbed during a livestreamed church service in July has been arrested and charged with attempted extortion, wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.
The FBI alleges that Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead — who openly bragged of his luxe lifestyle and relationship with New York City Mayor Eric Adams — made at least some of his riches through extorting a businessman and bilking a parishioner out of thousands of dollars.
Whitehead was arrested Monday and has since pleaded not guilty in US District Court in Manhattan.
The Bishop made headlines in July, when armed gunman stormed into Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries church in Canarsie, Brooklyn, and robbed him and his family of $1 million during a sermon, which was livestreamed.
In footage of the church’s livestream obtained by WCBS, Whitehead can be heard saying: “How many of you have lost your faith because you saw somebody else die?”
He then abruptly stops, appearing to notice the gunmen make their way through the church’s doors.
Whitehead then quickly lies on the ground in surrender as one of the assailants can be seen pointing a gun at his back and beginning to remove his jewelry. He told WCBS the robbers also pointed a gun at his wife and 8-month-old baby.
The robbers made off with over $1 million worth of jewelry after taking his chains, watch, wedding band, and cross, as well as jewelry from his wife, the NYPD previously said in a statement to Insider.
About two months after the attack, the FBI arrested two suspects they say were the gunmen on July 24: Juwan Anderson and Say-Quan Pollack, who were both 23 at the time.
A third gunman remains at large.
The robbery raised questions about Whitehead’s finances, designer clothes, and why he was targeted.
On Sunday, less than 24 hours before he was arrested, Whitehead held a sermon in which he said that his “Gucci, Fendi, and Louis” outfits were proof that a mix of God’s will, unwavering faith, and financial donations have led to his wealth, The Washington Post reported.
“Everybody thought that I was a villain,” Miller-Whitehead said, according to the Post. “But now they’re seeing I was anointed by God.”
Federal prosecutors, however, say that it wasn’t God’s will alone that helped Whitehead afford his designer lifestyle.
“As we allege today, Lamor Whitehead abused the trust placed in him by a parishioner, bullied a businessman for $5,000, then tried to defraud him of far more than that, and lied to federal agents,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Monday. “His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now.”
Allegations of deceit
The FBI alleges that Whitehead “sought money and other things of value from victims on the basis of either threats or false promises,” according to the criminal indictment.
Whitehead, the FBI says, took money or property from the victims — at least one of them a parishioner — promising to make them more money. Whitehead never had the intention of investing or returning the money, the FBI alleges.
Between April 2020 and July 2021, Whitehead defrauded a member of his church by eliciting $90,000 from her, promising he’d find her housing and then use the money as an investment in his real-estate business, the indictment says.
After the woman transferred the money from her retirement account to Whitehead, he used it to buy luxury goods and spend it on himself, the FBI says. He never found the woman a home.
About a year later, between April and May 2022, Whitehead asked to borrow $500,000 from a businessman in exchange for a stake in his real-estate business, according to the FBI. Prosecutors say he also promised the businessman he’d receive “favorable actions” from New York City government and make “millions.”
Using threats, he also obtained $5,000 from the business owner. At the direction of law enforcement investigating Whitehead, the man made the payment to Whitehead, according to the indictment.
Whitehead’s alleged scheme started to unravel after the highly publicized robbery in July.
Soon after, claims about the Bishop’s past misdeeds also started coming to light.
Then, reporters uncovered that one of Whitehead’s parishioners, Pauline Anderson, sued Whitehead in September 2021, alleging that she gave him $90,000 to help her buy a home after she told him she had poor credit. She sued him and alleged he kept the money and lined his pockets for his political campaign, according to court documents.
Whitehead ran an unsuccessful campaign for Brooklyn Borough President in 2021.
In September 2022, Tarsha Jones, the morning host of the New York radio station 94.7 The Block, made loaded claims about the Bishop on air, Whitehead later alleged in a lawsuit.
Whitehead sued Jones in New York County Supreme Court, saying that she spread lies about him following the robbery.
“On or about 9/13/2022, Miss Jones, on her morning radio show on 94.7 The Block, said that Bishop Whitehead: is a ‘drug dealer,’ ‘using the church to hide that old drug money,” the complaint says.
Whitehead’s attorney in that case called the claims false and said they “injured Plaintiff’s reputation as a pastor,” and implied criminal activity, affecting his congregation.
His lawsuit seeks $50 million in defamation damages from Jones and Paramount, which was once the owner of the station. It is now owned by Audacity.
In the criminal charges, Whitehead posted $500,000 bond.
He is represented by Attorney Dawn Florio, a high-profile Manhattan attorney who has represented Lil Tjay, 6ix9ine, and Remy Ma on criminal charges.
She didn’t immediately return Insider’s message seeking comment on the case.