A prominent New York bishop who has a sizable following has been accused of fraud and extortion. The “bling bishop,” Lamor Whitehead, who was held up at gunpoint while preaching in Brooklyn earlier this year, is charged with stealing from a parishioner’s retirement funds, extorting and scamming a company, and lying to the FBI, as reported by CBS News.
Whitehead got the nickname “the bling bishop” because he wore designer clothes and expensive jewelry out in public. The man was robbed during a sermon in Brooklyn when the suspects stole jewelry estimated worth $1 million. Whitehead was detained and will be prosecuted in federal court, according to a news release from the Department of Justice. WATCH the video below:
He is accused of extorting money from his victims using threats or deceptive assurances that the money will be invested for their financial gain. One parishioner gave him almost $90,000 of her retirement funds, which Whitehead is said to have used for luxury items and other personal expenses, said the report on CBS News.
The bishop allegedly requested $5,000 from a businessman while also asking him to lend him $500,000. Whitehead is accused of lying and promising the man a share in real estate deals. The bishop allegedly falsely stated that he had only one smartphone, and FBI agents discovered that he had another one in his possession.
Whitehead is accused of two counts of fraud. Such offenses carry a potential 20-year prison sentence. In addition, the bishop faces charges of making materially false claims, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. The count of extortion could lead to a 20-year prison sentence. Whitehead claims that his family became a target because of his assistance in turning a suspect connected with a catastrophic subway shooting that happened in May. He noted that the media exposure he received as “the bling bishop” contributed as well.
Whitehead said “NOT GUILTY” in a message on Instagram. Whitehead was a part of a similar scandal back in 2021. He was sued in New York by an ex-congregant who claimed that Whitehead defrauded her of $90,000.
The complaint claimed that in exchange for a $90,000 investment in November 2020, Whitehead offered to help Pauline Anderson purchase and renovate a home as well as help her raise her credit score. Whitehead also committed to paying $100 per month until the property was completely rebuilt, in addition to repaying Anderson in full. Additionally, Anderson alleged in the complaint that Whitehead texted her in May 2021 to clarify that the $90,000 was not an “investment” but rather a political contribution for which Whitehead was not required to repay.