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'Bling Bishop' Lamor Whitehead fraud trial starts as feds say he swindled parishioners

Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s “Bling Bishop” Lamor Whitehead abused his parishioners’ trust and lied about having “the key to the city” from his pal Mayor Eric Adams to pad his wallet with stolen cash and his closet with Louis Vuitton, federal prosecutors alleged Monday in opening statements.

“During this trial, you’ll learn that the defendant was trusted by many in his community. He was the bishop of a small church in Brooklyn and a self-described businessman. He was a friend to the mayor of New York City,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Greenwood said in Manhattan Federal Court.

“The defendant abused that trust by lying again and again. He lied about how much money he had. He lied about his business plans. And he lied about having influence with powerful people. All with the goal of getting money and property to fund his extravagant lifestyle.”

Whitehead, 47, is accused of wire fraud, extortion, and related offenses in the December 2022 case, carrying a potential decades-long sentence. He’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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.

Whitehead’s attorney, Dawn Florio, asked jurors to reserve judgment until they’d seen the evidence. She said the swindled parishioner had been screwed over by her son — not Whitehead.

“I do not expect there to be any credible evidence,” Florio said. “What would Lamor Whitehead get out of buying her a house?”

The trial continues Tuesday.

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©2024 New York Daily News. Visit at nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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