Lamor Whitehead, 45, has also been accused of trying to extort and defraud a businessman and lying to the FBI. He has been charged with two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“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.”
Whitehead allegedly “induced” a parishioner to invest about $90,000 of her retirement savings with him, according to an indictment. He’s accused of spending that money on luxury goods and other personal purposes.
The Brooklyn bishop was also charged with 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.
“Lamor Whitehead is not guilty of these charges,” his lawyer said in a statement to Nexstar’s WPIX. “He will be vigorously defending these allegations. He feels that he is being targeted and being turned into a villain from a victim.”
Whitehead formed Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in 2013, after serving a five-year prison sentence for identity theft and grand larceny. Whitehead claims he was illegally convicted.
Whitehead and his wife were robbed mid-sermon in July after three male suspects stormed in and held them at gunpoint, police said in July. Whitehead and his wife told police the men made off with over $1 million in jewelry, including rings, watches, and chains. One of the suspects allegedly pointed a gun in the face of Whitehead’s 8-month-old child, he said in a Facebook post.
Two suspects were arrested in September for the incident, which was caught on a since-deleted church live stream.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.