Lamor Whitehead, a US bishop with a large number of followers has just been indicted on charges of fraud and extortion. And, this came as subsequent to the recent news on his being robbed of jewelry worth more than $1m (£840,000) at gunpoint, during a livestreamed sermon held in New York.
He claimed his family must have been targeted in the mishap, having linked the cause to an earlier occurrence, when he helped turn in a wanted suspect in a subway bloodbath in May. Suffice it to say, the media attention he attracted after the bold step must have played a big part in the incident, which according to BBC, recorded a loss of “a $25,000 Episcopal ruby and diamond ring, a $25,000 pair of earrings, and even his wedding band.”
It, therefore, came with a shock to hear the popular preacher, who is also identified as the “bling bishop” accused on the pedestal of the following three claims— duping a parishioner of her retirement savings, attempting to rip off a businessman and deceiving the FBI agents at a time.
It was on Monday last week that Whitehead was arrested. And, in a press release, it was said he would appear in federal court, the Department of Justice.
He was alleged of using deception or false hope to extort money from his victims, deceiving them into investing in a baseless basket. One parishioner allegedly fell a victim of his whim and was duped of roughly $90,000 which was her retirement savings. And, according to a source, the money was recklessly used by Whitehead on luxurious things.
Also, he allegedly defrauded a businessman of $5,000— the same man claimed to have been asked to lend him (Whitehead) an additional sum of $500,000. As per CBS, “he allegedly lied and told the man he would get a stake in real estate transactions, which Whitehead knew he could not obtain.”
It was allegedly reported that, when the FBI agents came to search his abode, he made a fool of them by claiming he had no other cellphones than the one on him, whereas he owed another phone.
It was on these two counts of wire fraud, that Whitehead may face an imprisonment up to 20 years, if eventually convicted. Not without relevance also is his being charged of making false statements, which also carries a penalty under the law.
However, in the recent week, Whitehead made a video post on Instagram, claiming his innocence as he also urged his followers to join him on another livestream.
In the “trifling” video, Whitehead expressed himself in an estranged voice, however muddled with a sense of belonging:
“The bishop is not guilty. And I’m going to fight it. I have the right legal team, and more importantly, I have God.
Ain’t nothing changed. I’m still the same bishop! And, I’ll say it again. Just because you were arrested doesn’t make you guilty. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. I’m telling you all. You drunk it already. Don’t drink it again. Give it time.”