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On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York announced that they arrested Bishop Lamar Whitehead for fraud, extortion, and false statements.
Earlier this year Brooklyn bishop went viral after an abrupt robbery was captured via live stream during a church service in July.
Recalling the robbery, Whitehead said, “When I saw them come into the sanctuary with their guns, I told everybody, ‘Get down,’” Whitehead said in an Instagram video describing the alleged theft. “I didn’t know if they wanted to shoot the church up.”
Though Whitehead’s version of events have been widely disputed, as he tells it, the thieves demanded that he and his wife turn over all their jewelry, which included a $75,000 Rolex watch, a $75,000 Cavalier watch, a $25,000 Episcopal ruby-and-diamond ring, and a $25,000 Episcopal diamond ring, among other gem-encrusted baubles, according to the New York Post.
A few weeks later he went viral once again after he was involved in an incident with a woman in his church, having her forcefully removed mid-sermon.
FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said on Monday, “As we allege today, Whitehead carried out several duplicitous schemes in order to receive funds from his victims. Additionally, when speaking with authorities, Whitehead consciously chose to mislead and lie to them. 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.”
In November, he filed a $50 million lawsuit against a New York City hip hop radio station and one of its hosts for calling him a “drug dealer” on the air.
According to the filing, Jones, whose full name is Tarsha Nicole Jones, said during a Sept. 13 broadcast that Whitehead, pastor of the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministry, is “drug dealer,” and was “using the church to hide that old drug money.”
While he may demand respect be put on his name from NYC radio hosts, social media users have long labeled him a con-man.
Bishop Lamar Whitehead out there hustling his congregation so he can dress with no sense at all while preaching about Jesus who was a poor son of a carpenter who never adorned himself in an ostentatious way. I mean, if you gonna steal hire a stylist at least. Cause… Damn…
— Cakes-alot (@Cakes_it_all) September 19, 2022
Who made this Nigga Lamar Whitehead a bishop? And who are these people going to that church?
— YungGibson (@SamGibsonJr) September 19, 2022
Bishop Lamar Whitehead has long history of suspect financial actions and inactions
According to Curbed, the jewelry and his role at the church aside, Whitehead also dabbles in real estate.
On Instagram, he boasts about “buying blocks,” posing (in, yes, a Fendi sweater) in front of a half-block-long, 48-unit apartment complex in Hartford, Connecticut, that his LLC, Whitehead Estates, bought in 2021. In January, he was back in front of the same apartment complex, advertising real-estate classes, but Whitehead Estates doesn’t appear to have a website, and the sign-up for the classes was a church email address.
When The City recently visited Whitehead’s home in Paramus, New Jersey, it found a notice taped to the door that he was in default for a $4.5 million loan he’d taken out on the Hartford property, which is located at 150–180 Earle Street, in the rundown North East neighborhood. The address listed on that loan is an apartment in a rent-stabilized complex in Prospect–Lefferts Gardens that was purchased by a seemingly unaffiliated LLC in 2012. At the time, Whitehead was in Sing Sing, serving a five-year sentence for his involvement in a $2 million identity-theft scam.
In July, The City reported that a parishioner was also suing Whitehead for stealing her life savings of $90,000, which she’d entrusted to him to help her buy a house.