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New York bishop who was robbed during live-streamed sermon arrested on fraud and extortion charges

Pastor robbed during livestream church service indicted
Pastor robbed during livestream church service indicted 02:23

A New York bishop with a large following has been indicted on charges of fraud and extortion. Lamor Whitehead, who is known as the "bling bishop" and was robbed at gunpoint while delivering a sermon in Brooklyn earlier this year, is accused of defrauding a parishioner out of her retirement savings, attempting to extort and defraud a businessman, and lying to the FBI.  

Whitehead was arrested on Monday and will be presented in federal court, the Department of Justice said in a press release. 

He allegedly used threats or false promises to collect money from his victims, telling them the money was going to investments that would benefit them financially. One parishioner invested approximately $90,000 of her retirement savings with him, which Whitehead allegedly spent on luxury goods and other personal purposes.  

Bishop Lamor Whitehead speaks during a news conference in Brooklyn on Friday, July 29, 2022.  Theodore Parisienne/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

He allegedly extorted a businessman for $5,000, then also attempted to convince the man to lend him $500,000. Whitehead allegedly lied and told the man he would get a stake in real estate transactions, which Whitehead knew he could not obtain.  

When FBI agents were executing a search warrant, the bishop allegedly falsely claimed that he had no cellphones other than the one he had on him, but he actually owned a second phone, authorities said. 

Whitehead is charged with two counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if he is convicted. He is also charged with one count of 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 leaves the Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Brooklyn, New York, after the robbery incident took place. Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Whitehead, who is known for wearing designer clothing and lavish jewelry, told CBS News York earlier this year the media dubbed him "the bling bishop." He was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of a sermon that he was giving in Brooklyn, with the suspect stealing $1 million worth of jewelry, police said, according to CBS New York. 

He said he believes his family was targeted because he helped turn in a suspect wanted in a fatal subway shooting in May. He said the media attention he got after that as "the bling bishop" played a part. 

On Tuesday, Whitehead posted a message on Instagram: "NOT GUILTY!" He also directed followers to join his livestream at 10:30 a.m. 

CBS News has reached out to Whitehead for a comment and is awaiting response. 

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