Pastor Robbed During Sermon Accused of Stealing $90,000 of Parishioner's Savings
A new twist in a viral story of a Rolls-Royce-driving clergyman.
A video of a Brooklyn pastor who was robbed of pricey jewelry while he was delivering a sermon went viral this week. But days later, new facts came to light giving this story a new twist. According to The City, the assaulted pastor was accused in a lawsuit of stealing $90,000 from one of his parishioners. Read on to learn more about the new accusations and the clergyman's extravagant background.
Robbed While Preaching
Lamor Whitehead, the bishop at Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches in Canarsie, ran for Brooklyn borough president in 2020. He attracted headlines last week when gunmen robbed him of jewelry during a live-streamed service.
Part of the reported incident was captured on video from inside the church. The video that later went viral shows three men clad in black robbing the pastor and his wife in the middle of his sermon. One of the men appears to put a gun in Whitehead's back as he collects the jewelry. Reports have varied on the value of the jewelry, from $400,000 to $1 million.
According to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last year, Whitehead persuaded Pauline Anderson, 56, to invest almost her entire life savings in one of his businesses, promising he could help her buy a home despite her bad credit history.
The suit alleges that Anderson wrote Whitehead a $90,000 cashier's check in November 2020. He was to give her a $100 monthly allowance for living expenses. In early 2021, after not receiving the allowance or help on the home purchase, Whitehead told Anderson that he was treating her investment as a donation to his campaign for borough president.
"Mr. Whitehead fraudulently induced Ms. Anderson to liquidate her entire life savings to pay him the 'investment' of $90,000.00, promising to use the funds to purchase and renovate a house for her," the lawsuit says.
On Thursday, the New York Daily News reported that the suit alleges Whitehead bought a $4.4 million house in New Jersey, with a pool, gym and wine cellar, while telling Anderson he couldn't repay her savings.
Whitehead told the Daily News that Anderson was not telling the truth. "Her son was a member of my ministry who was removed because he was unintegral," he said. "It's a lawsuit because of who I am. Everybody that tried to sue me because of my celebrity status is just gonna keep going in trying to do what they do."
In the Spotlight
The pastor was in the spotlight in June when he claimed he was involved in trying to negotiate the surrender of a man accused of shooting and killing a Goldman Sachs employee on a New York City subway. Police eventually arrested the man before he could voluntarily surrender.
But there is more; The City reported that Whitehead previously served state prison sentences for identity fraud and grand larceny.
Whitehead has a close relationship with New York City Mayor Eric Adams and has appeared at several public events with him. "No one in this city should be the victim of armed robbery, let alone our faith leaders and congregants worshiping in a House of God," Adams told the Daily News on Monday. "The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice."
Whitehead's verified Instagram account details his extravagant shows of wealth, including his Gucci suits, diamond chains and stable of luxury cars.
According to The New York Post, bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead insisted on Instagram that his public displays of wealth didn't lead to Sunday's gunpoint robbery during his livestreamed service. "It's not about me being flashy," said the Rolls-Royce-driving bishop in a video shortly after the robbery. "It's about me purchasing what I want to purchase," he said. "It's my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase. If I worked hard for it, I can purchase what I want to purchase."
Meanwhile, New York police have released new images and surveillance footage of the trio suspected of robbing pastor Whitehead and his wife. The images show three men in black clothing with their faces mostly covered. The 19-second video shows them walking toward a building minutes before the robbery occurred, police said.
"I'm excited, and I'm hoping and praying that they catch all three of them," Whitehead told CBS New York. "I'm sure the community that they're from, I'm sure someone will recognize them." Whitehead announced on Monday morning that he was offering a reward of up to $50,000 cash for the arrest of the armed men.