NEW YORK – A controversial flashy bishop in New York City was arrested Monday on federal charges of fraud, extortion and making false statements to FBI agents.
Lamor Miller-Whitehead is the founder of Brooklyn-based Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches. He made headlines in July when he was allegedly robbed of $1 million in jewelry during a live-streamed sermon. Now, the 45-year-old “Bling-Bishop” is accused of defrauding one of his parishioners out of part of her retirement savings, attempting to extort and defraud a businessman, and lying to the FBI, according to an unsealed indictment, Fox News reported.
Whitehead’s arrest was announced Monday morning by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York prior to the defendant’s appearance later in the day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.
“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. “His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now.”
“As we allege today, Whitehead carried out several duplicitous schemes in order to receive funds from his victims,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll added. “Additionally, when speaking with authorities, Whitehead consciously chose to mislead and lie to them. If you are willing to attempt to obtain funds through false promises or threats, the FBI will ensure that you are made to face the consequences for your actions in our criminal justice system.”
According to court documents, Whitehead is accused of inducing one of his parishioners to invest approximately $90,000 of her retirement savings with him before spending the money on luxury goods and other personal purposes, Fox reported.
Moreover, the bishop reportedly extorted a businessman for $5,000, then tried to persuade the same man to lend him $500,000 and give him a stake in certain real estate transactions in return for favorable actions from the NYC government, which Whitehead allegedly knew he could not obtain.
The formal filing charges Whitehead with two counts of wire fraud, one count of extortion, and one count of making material false statements.
According to prosecutors, each count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; extortion carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and making material false statements carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.