Brooklyn pastor, Lamor Whitehead, who was previously robbed of more than $1 million in jewelry mid-sermon, was arrested Monday, reports The Gothamist. Whitehead is being charged with fraud and extortion as he is accused of swindling one of his parishioners out of $90,000 in retirement savings.
In a separate incident, Whitehead allegedly threatened a Bronx businessman out of $5,000. He later promised the same man he could “obtain favorable actions by the New York City government” if the man gave him $500,000 and a stake in certain real estate transactions. Despite knowing “he had no ability to obtain such actions,” the indictment states.
“As we allege today, 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,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now.”
The longtime friend of Mayor Eric Adams has previously drawn public scrutiny over his lavish lifestyle. Despite this, his government connections are seemingly insufficient to save him as many officials describe his allegations as troubling.
“I’ve spent decades enforcing the law and expect everyone to follow it,” Adams said.
“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.”
This summer, the mayor maintained his support for Whitehead, even after it was reported that his parishioner, Pauline Anderson, was suing him, alleging he “fraudulently induced [her] to liquidate her entire life savings to pay him the investment of $90,000, promising to use the funds to purchase and renovate a house for her.”
This alleged incident is one of the key accusations in Whitehead’s case as federal prosecutors state that Anderson’s money was used “to purchase thousands of dollars of luxury goods and clothing.”
Whitehead faces two counts of wire fraud as well as one count of extortion. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also faces one count of making material false statements, which has a maximum sentence of five years.
“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,” FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll said.