Crime and Courts

NY bishop sentenced to 9 years in prison for wire fraud and attempted extortion, feds say

Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead made headlines in July 2022 when armed assailants robbed him and his wife of $1 million worth of jewelry during a livestreamed service

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A Brooklyn bishop who authorities say stole from one of his parishioners was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday in a series of financial fraud crimes that netted him millions, federal prosecutors said.

Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead, 46, was convicted in March of wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal law enforcement agents, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Miller-Whitehead, a bishop at the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries church in Canarsie, made headlines in July 2022 when armed assailants robbed him and his wife of $1 million worth of jewelry during a livestreamed service, police said.

The bishop was called a "con man" by U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

"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," Williams said. "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.”

Miller-Whitehead was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution and forfeit $95,000, prosecutors said.

Attorney Dawn Florio said in a Monday statement Miller-Whitehead is innocent and vowed his legal fight is not over.

"As today’s sentencing was not what we had hoped for, we are deeply saddened by the outcome. Despite this setback, we remain steadfast in our belief in Bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead’s innocence and are committed to continuing the fight," Florio said.

"We will explore all available legal avenues to ensure that justice is served. Our dedication to proving Bishop Whitehead’s innocence is unwavering, and we will immediately begin the appeal process."

During the 2022 robbery incident armed assailants “displayed firearms and demanded property” from the bishop and his wife, then 38, police said.

The preacher embraced his flashy lifestyle. He was known for driving around in a Rolls Royce and records show he lived in a $1.6 million home in Paramus, New Jersey. He also owned apartment buildings in Hartford, Connecticut.

A number listed on the leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries Facebook page was not in service on Monday afternoon.

Miller-Whitehead convinced one of his parishioners to invest about $90,000 from her retirement savings with him by promising he would help buy her a home, prosecutors said. He spent that money on luxury goods and personal expenses and didn’t pay her back when she asked, prosecutors said.

He also extorted a businessman of $5,000, prosecutors said, and tried to convince the same man to lend him $500,000 and stake in real estate transactions in return for favorable actions from the mayor of New York City, prosecutors said.

Miller-Whitehead could not deliver on the promises he made, prosecutors said.

He also submitted a fraudulent application for a $250,000 business loan that included doctored bank statements that claimed he had millions of dollars in the bank and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue.

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

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