Federal Authorities: Bishop Embezzled Churchgoer's Retirement Savings for Luxury Purchases
Bishop Lamor Whitehead has been arrested and charged with extortion and fraud.
Lamor Miller Whitehead, the high-living church bishop who became famous after he was robbed mid-sermon on a live stream in July 2022, has been arrested and charged with fraud and extortion.
According to a Dec. 19 press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York, Miller is charged "with defrauding one of his parishioners out of part of her retirement savings, attempting to extort and defraud a businessman, and lying to the FBI." The 45-year-old pastor of Leaders of Tomorrow International Church was arrested early Monday.
The release quoted U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, who said in part, "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."
Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director of the FBI, added that Whitehead was allegedly behind "several duplicitous schemes in order to receive funds from his victims" in addition to lying to investigators.
Indictments unsealed in federal court stated that the pastor induced one parishioner to part with $90,000 in retirement savings, promising to invest them on her behalf. However, prosecutors allege the Bishop spent the money on himself instead, purchasing "luxury goods" and using it for "other personal purposes."
Whitehead allegedly committed extortion by asking another parishioner for $5,000, only to follow up with a request for $500,000. In return, prosecutors say the Bishop promised to curry favor on his mark's behalf with the New York City government, something he "knew he could not obtain." Whitehead is also accused of lying to investigators executing a search warrant of his property, telling them "he had no cellphones other than the phone he was carrying when, in fact, [he] owned a second phone, which he regularly used to communicate."
If convicted of all charges — two counts of wire fraud, one of extortion, and one for making false statements — Bishop Lamor Whitehead could face a maximum total of 45 years in prison.