Brooklyn pastor ‘Bling Bishop’ sentenced to 9 years for fraud and extortion, US attorney says

Lamor Whitehead, a flashy Brooklyn pastor nicknamed the “Bling Bishop,” was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison after being convicted of using a parishioner’s retirement savings and trying to extort a businessman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced.

Whitehead was found guilty in March of two counts of wire fraud, as well as one count each of attempted wire fraud, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal law enforcement agents. The convictions are from three separate schemes.

In addition to his prison sentence, the 45-year-old New Jersey man “was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution and forfeit $95,000,” according to a news release from the US attorney’s office and court documents.

“Lamor Whitehead is a con man who stole millions of dollars in a string of financial frauds and even stole from one of his own parishioners. He lied to federal agents, and again to the Court at his trial. Today’s sentence puts an end to Whitehead’s various schemes and reflects this Office’s commitment to bring accountability to those who abuse their positions of trust,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in the news release.

One of Whitehead’s attorneys has previously said they plan to appeal. CNN has reached out to Whitehead’s lawyer for comment.

Known for his Louis Vuitton suits and extravagant jewelry, Whitehead was a pastor at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in Brooklyn. He made headlines in 2022 after he said he and his wife were robbed of $1 million worth of jewelry at their church.

Prosecutors said Whitehead defrauded one of his parishioners by convincing her to invest approximately $90,000 of her retirement savings with him so he could help her buy a home; however, he ended up spending the money on luxury goods and personal expenses instead, according to an indictment.

Whitehead also extorted a businessman for $5,000 and then attempted to convince the man to loan him $500,000 and grant him a stake in real estate transactions in exchange for obtaining “favorable actions by the New York City government” that he knew he could not provide, the indictment said.

Whitehead used his ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams to try to make the deal, the US attorney’s office said in a March news release.

He also submitted a fraudulent application for a $250,000 business loan that included doctored bank statements, which falsely claimed he had millions of dollars in the bank and hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue, according to the US attorney’s office news release.

Whitehead had “submitted similar fraudulent applications to various other financial institutions, stealing millions of dollars in the process,” the release said.

And when speaking to FBI agents who were executing a search warrant outside his New Jersey mansion, Whitehead made false statements by telling the agents he only had one phone, when he actually had two, according to the indictment.

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