A Brooklyn preacher accused of stealing from a parishioner’s retirement fund to support his extravagant lifestyle and extorting a businessman by falsely promising to use his connections in the city to make “millions” together was arrested on Monday.
He is known for his close friendship with the mayor of New York City and for serving time in prison.
Lamor Miller-Whitehead, a Rolls Royce-driving bishop who gained notoriety in July when armed robbers interrupted his church service and stole $1 million in jewelry from him, pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud, extortion, and making false statements after it was claimed he deceived FBI agents by saying he didn’t have a second cell phone.
The maximum sentence for extortion and wire fraud offenses is 20 years in prison.
The “campaign of deception and dishonesty” by Miller-Whitehead “stops immediately,” according to Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
Before his appearance on Monday, an indictment returned last week under seal and stored in a courtroom vault was made public.
Miller-Whitehead, 45, was freed after posting a personal recognizance bond of $500,000. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that he must remain in the New York metropolitan region during the legal proceedings, keep his job, and refrain from communicating with potential witnesses or victims.
According to defense attorney Dawn Florio, Bishop Lamor Whitehead is innocent of these allegations.
“He will vigorously contest these charges. He believes he is singled out and transformed from a victim to a villain.
While acting as Brooklyn’s borough president, Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who grew close to Miller-Whitehead, said: “I’ve spent decades upholding the law and expect everyone to respect it. I have devoted my life to helping people who have a problematic past.
Even though these charges are concerning, I won’t say anything more until the investigation is over.
The prosecution did not mention Adams, nor was Miller-connections Whitehead’s to him.
After completing a five-year prison sentence for identity theft and grand larceny in a case that he believes was the consequence of an illegitimate conviction, Miller-Whitehead founded the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in 2013.
He preaches in Brooklyn, but according to records, he resides in a $1.6 million house in Paramus, New Jersey.
Additionally, he owns housing complexes in Hartford, Connecticut.
Miller-Whitehead is accused of using intimidation and deceptive promises of a better life and significant financial returns to defraud his victims.
The indictment stated that Miller-Whitehead took the money “without any purpose of investing it, repaying it, or benefitting the victims.”
In one instance, Miller-Whitehead is accused of defrauding a parishioner out of $90,000 in retirement savings by making false promises to assist her in finding a home and invest the remaining funds in his real estate business, echoing a civil action brought last year.
Prosecutors alleged that Miller-Whitehead instead spent the cash on expensive apparel and accessories.
The parishioner claims that Miller-Whitehead informed her that she was under no duty to pay back the money since he did not view it as an investment but rather as a contribution to his failed campaign for Brooklyn borough president last year.
The parishioner’s attorney said they had nothing further to say about Miller-arrest.