Lamor Whitehead, a flashy Brooklyn pastor who was the victim of a brazen armed robbery last summer, was charged on Monday with fraud, extortion and lying to federal authorities.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Mr. Whitehead solicited money from victims, including a retired parishioner, through threats or false promises of enriching them, then kept the money for himself.
Dawn Florio, a lawyer for Mr. Whitehead, said, “Bishop Whitehead denies these allegations and we are going to fight them vigorously.”
Mr. Whitehead was thrust into the public eye on July 24, when armed robbers rushed into his small church, Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries, during his sermon, while it was being streamed on the internet. The masked men stole jewelry and other property from Mr. Whitehead and his wife. Two men were charged in Brooklyn federal court in September in connection with the robbery.
The charges on Monday accused Mr. Whitehead of conduct that predated the robbery.
An investigation into the bishop’s wealth uncovered accusations of fraud and extortion, according to the indictment. One case began in 2020, when a woman who had recently visited the church was recovering from surgery, prosecutors said. Mr. Whitehead offered to help her buy a new home, and the woman, Pauline Anderson, sent him $90,000 that she had withdrawn from her retirement account, according to a lawsuit.
“I am a man of integrity and you will not lose,” he texted her. She asked for her money back, but he said it was too late, as it had already been invested.