Man dubbed the “bling bishop” who was “robbed” during a live-streamed sermon has been indicted on charges of fraud and extortion

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ALBANY, NY – According to reports, the bishop who was robbed at gunpoint while live-streaming a sermon earlier in Brooklyn in the year has been indicted on charges of fraud and extortion.

Lamor Whitehead, known as the “bling bishop,” is being accused of defrauding a parishioner out of her retirement savings, attempting to extort and defraud a businessman, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

On Monday, December 19th, Whitehead was arrested and according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) was presented in federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.

Whitehead allegedly used threats or false promises to collect money from his victims, telling them the money was going to investments that would benefit them financially.

According to the DOJ, one parishioner invested approximately $90,000 of her retirement savings with him, which Whitehead allegedly spent on luxury goods and other personal purposes.

He also allegedly extorted a businessman for $5,000, then also attempted to convince the man to lend him $500,000. Whitehead allegedly lied and told the man he would get a stake in real estate transactions, which Whitehead knew he could not obtain.

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement:

“As we allege today, Whitehead carried out several duplicitous schemes in order to receive funds from his victims. 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.”

When FBI agents were executing a search warrant, the bishop allegedly falsely claimed that he had no cellphones other than the one he had one him, but authorities said that he actually owned a second phone.

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Whitehead has been charged with two counts of wire fraud, and if convicted, each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

He has also been charged with one count of extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of making material false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Thanks to wearing designer clothing and lavish jewelry, Whitehead said that the media has dubbed him “the bling bishop.” Earlier in the year, when he was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of giving a sermon, the suspect allegedly stole $1 million worth of jewelry.

Whitehead said that he believes his family was targeted because he helped turn in a suspect wanted in a fatal subway shooting back in May. He also said that the media attention he got after being dubbed “the bling bishop” played a part.

The day after his arrest, Whitehead posted a message on Instagram, “NOT GUILTY!” and then directed his followers to join his livestream at 10:30 a.m. His attorney, Dawn Florio, said in a statement:

“We are vigorously going to defend these accusations. Everyone was wrong about Bishop Lamor Whitehead setting up the robbery at the church, people were arrested he had nothing to do with that.”

She added:

“This all stems out of a civil lawsuit that is being handled in civil court. He will be vindicated.”

His attorney is referring to a 2021 Brooklyn Supreme Court suit brought by parishioner Pauline Anderson, who is accusing Whitehead of swindling her out of her life savings.

Anderson says that Whitehead convinced her to liquidate her life savings and pay him a $90,000 “investment” in November of 2020 with the promise that he would buy and renovate a home for her.

Instead, he allegedly used the funds for a down payment on a $4.4 million home for himself in Saddle River, New Jersey.

Whitehead, who is 45-years-old, is from Paramus, New Jersey, and previously served five years in prison on identity theft charges. This incident happened in 2006 when state prosecutors accused him for using the personal information of several people to buy cars and motorcycles.

He was sentenced up to 30 years in prison, but was released for good behavior in 2013. Soon after the live-streamed robbery, Whitehead was interviewed by the rapper Fat Joe, who pinpointed the bishop’s predicament. He said:

“It’s kinda messed up that you got robbed, but people don’t believe you got robbed.”

Whitehead, who faces a number of civil suits, launched an unsuccessful campaign for Brooklyn borough president in 2021. Now, one of his former campaign workers claims that Whitehead stiffed him out of $56,000. He called the campaign worker’s lawsuit “frivolous.”

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