'Bling Bishop' Is Facing Serious Federal Charges

Lamor Whitehead is accused of swindling a parishioner and other fraud charges
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2022 9:45 AM CST
'Bling Bishop' Accused of Swindling Parishioner
Bishop Lamor Whitehead in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Over the summer, a Brooklyn bishop made unwanted headlines because he was robbed during a live-streamed service of an estimated $1 million in jewelry. Now Lamor Whitehead is making more unwanted headlines—federal prosecutors charged him with multiple offenses, including swindling a parishioner and extorting a local businessman. Whitehead, known as the "bling bishop," insists on his innocence, with his lawyer telling the Washington Post that "he feels that he is being targeted and being turned into a villain from a victim." He has been released on $500,000 bond.

"His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now," US Attorney Damian Williams says in a news release. One of the charges involves Whitehead taking $90,000 from a female parishioner, ostensibly to help her buy a new home, per the New York Times. Instead, he used the money to put a down payment on a multimillion-dollar property in New Jersey for himself, according to the woman's lawsuit against him. Whitehead allegedly maintains that he owes the 56-year-old woman nothing because he views the money as a political donation toward his losing campaign for Brooklyn borough president last year. The money came out of the woman's retirement savings.

The feds also say Whitehead "bullied a businessman for $5,000, then tried to defraud him of far more than that." The bishop, head of the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries church, allegedly promised the businessman he could make them both rich through his political connections. The allegation has raised scrutiny of Whitehead's long relationship with New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "I've spent decades enforcing the law and expect everyone to follow it," the mayor said in a statement to Gothamist. "I have also dedicated my life to assisting individuals with troubled pasts. While these allegations are troubling, I will withhold further comment until the process reaches its final conclusion." (Read more Brooklyn stories.)

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