US Preacher known for his flashy lifestyle is convicted of multiple frauds, attempted extortion

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
 – A Brooklyn bishop notoriously known for his flashy lifestyle has been convicted of fraud, attempted extortion and lying to the FBI.

Jurors in Manhattan Federal Court found Lamor Miller-Whitehead, 47, guilty of five counts including wire fraud, attempted extortion and lying to FBI agents about having a second cellphone on Monday.

The charges stemmed from three separate schemes and carry up to 45 years in prison.

Whitehead, infamously known as the 'Bling Bishop,' ran a church in Canarsie called Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries.

He was accused of conning Pauline Anderson, an elderly single mother, out of $90,000, promising that he would buy her a house. Instead, prosecutors said, he spent the money on luxury items.

Last month, Whitehead appeared in court donning a $2,250 Fendi backpack.

Before his lengthy record of deceit came to light, the Rolls Royce-driving bishop was 'trusted by many in his community,' Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Greenwood said at the time.

'The defendant abused that trust by lying again and again,' she said.  'He lied about how much money he had. He lied about his business plans.

And he lied about having influence with powerful people. All with the goal of getting money and property to fund his extravagant lifestyle.'

She accused Whitehead of convincing the elderly woman, a former nurse, that he would use her retirement savings to buy a fixer-upper home and renovate it for her to live in.

'And she believed the defendant - a man, who by that time, had become a mentor and spiritual adviser to her son,' Greenwood continued.

Whitehead ultimately splurged the money on designer clothing and a BMW payment.

When the victim’s son attempted to recoup his mother's funds, Whitehead said in a text message he was asking God to 'exact vengeance' upon the man.

Two other schemes targeted a money-lending company and a Bronx businessman.

Prosecutors said the bishop drew up fake bank statements to secure a $250,000 loan, claiming that he had millions in a company account that actually contained less than $6.

He was also accused of attempting to extort $5,000 from Brandon Belmonte, the owner of a Bronx auto body shop, after a repair job.

Prosecutors alleged Whitehead further tried to convince Belmonte to lend him $500,000 and give him a stake in real estate deals, insisting his connections to city officials could earn them favourable treatment and score them millions.

Belmonte was hit with federal bank and wire fraud charges himself in August 2023. The 39-year-old was accused of running a financing scheme through his car rental business as well as an insurance scam.

Records show Whitehead lived in a $1.6 million home in Paramus, New Jersey, and owned multiple apartment buildings in Hartford, Connecticut.

He was arrested in December 2022 in connection to the cases being heard in federal court but was released after posting $500,000 bail.

The preacher also made headlines for his ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whom he unsuccessfully ran to succeed as Brooklyn borough president in 2021.

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