Home News ‘Bling Bishop’ Facing Trial for Defrauding and Extorting Congregation Members for Thousands of Dollars

‘Bling Bishop’ Facing Trial for Defrauding and Extorting Congregation Members for Thousands of Dollars

‘Bling Bishop’ Facing Trial for Defrauding and Extorting Congregation Members for Thousands of Dollars

It is often said that being in the ministry isn’t for those who want to be rich. But apparently, that wasn’t the case with Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead, also known as the “Bling Bishop,” who is currently facing a conviction for allegedly defrauding members of his congregation in Brooklyn.

The bishop is being accused of a series of grave misdeeds that constitute a betrayal of his flock so that he could live in the lap of luxury. His trial began on Monday when the prosecutor outlined the list of alleged misdeeds committed by the pastor.

A prosecutor told a jury at the start of a fraud trial Monday that a Brooklyn preacher exaggerated his ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams and let greed overtake him as he looted a parishioner’s retirement savings and tried to extort a businessman to fuel his lavish lifestyle. His lawyer said the government is wrong.

Lamor Miller-Whitehead, 47, a Rolls Royce-driving bishop, was accused by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Greenwood of telling the owner of an auto repair shop that he could get the mayor to “do official favors” if he and the businessman teamed up on real estate deals that could earn them millions of dollars.

In Manhattan federal court, Greenwood called Miller-Whitehead a “con man who told lie after lie to victim after victim, committing crime after crime.”

She said he was “willing to lie, cheat and steal to keep up his appearance of wealth,” which included fancy cars, designer clothing and the mansion where he lived.

Miller-Whitehead has pleaded not guilty to wire fraud, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal law enforcement officials.

Miller-Whitehead’s defense, led by attorney Dawn Florio, cited a lack of evidence proving that her client abused his position as pastor. However, Greenwood laid out a rather damning preview of different instances in which Miller-Whitehead allegedly cheated members of his congregation.

Greenwood told jurors they’d hear witness testimony, recordings of Whitehead, and see documents laying out three separate schemes targeting an elderly single mother of one of Whitehead’s parishioners, a money lending company, and a Bronx businessman.

“The defendant convinced this woman, who had spent her career working as a nurse, to give him $90,000 of her life savings,” Greenwood said. “He promised to use the money to buy a fixer-upper home that he would renovate for her to live in. And she believed the defendant — a man, who by that time, had become a mentor and spiritual adviser to her son.”

Greenwood alleged Whitehead instead spent the cash on himself, including splurging on designer clothing and a BMW payment.

“The victim never got her house, and she never got her money back.”

In the second scheme, Greenwood alleged Whitehead drew up fake bank statements to get a $250,000 loan, purporting to show he had millions in a company account that had less than $6.

The third scheme, Greenwood alleged, saw the headline-grabbing pastor threaten the owner of an auto body shop in the Bronx, Brandon Belmonte, attempting to extort him for $5,000 after a repair job. The prosecutor said he further lied to Belmonte to attempt to get his name on a $500,000 real estate deal, promising favors from Mayor Adams in exchange that could make them millions.

“But it was all lies. Although the mayor was a friend and a mentor to the defendant, the defendant had never gotten official favors from the mayor, the defendant made that other stuff up to try to get even more money he wasn’t entitled to,” Greenwood said.

On the other hand, Florio contended that “the government has not met their burden of proof.” She claims the bishop was actually cheated by the boy he was supposedly mentoring, claiming he borrowed $90,000 from his mother and convinced her to co-sign a loan for his own house. She also argued that Miller-Whitehead was innocent in Belmonte’s case because it was a civil dispute, not a criminal issue.

The bishop garnered national attention after footage went viral showing a robber taking his jewelry at gunpoint while he was preaching in a church service.

This trial is about more than a prominent individual and his ill-gotten gains. It touches on issues of trust in church leadership and how a lack of accountability can enable folks in these positions to abuse those who look to them for guidance. If the prosecution proves its case, there will be at least one church in Brooklyn in need of a new pastor.

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