New York’s “Bling Bishop,” Lamor Whitehead, the pastor known for his taste for luxury and for being robbed at gunpoint during a live-streamed sermon in July, was arrested Monday on charges of fraud, extortion and making false statements to the FBI.
Mr. Whitehead is accused of convincing an unnamed female parishioner to invest $90,000 of her retirement savings with him, then spending that money on luxury goods, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Whitehead also is accused of extorting a businessman for $5,000 before trying to convince him to lend him $500,000 and give him a financial stake in real estate transactions. Mr. Whitehead is alleged to have promised the businessman favorable treatment from New York City’s government.
Finally, Mr. Whitehead is accused of lying to FBI agents executing a search warrant, claiming to possess only one cellphone when authorities allege, he possessed a second phone as well.
“As we allege today, Mr. 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. His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in the arrest announcement.
Mr. Whitehead faces charges on “two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; 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.”
Mr. Whitehead is holed up in his mansion in Paramus, New Jersey, having been released on a $500,000 bond.
When confronted by a New York Post reporter Tuesday, Mr. Whitehead said, “Everybody who got arrested is not guilty. OK, brother?”