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The "Bling" bishop of Brooklyn is once again in the news, but this time it's for yet another alleged criminal activity that he himself perpetrated.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead, who was robbed at gunpoint during a church service earlier this year, was arrested by federal agents Monday for allegedly scamming a member of his own congregation.
Other charges have also been filed against Whitehead. The New York Post reported that he was indicted on two counts of wire fraud, one count of extortion and one count of making material false statements for lying to the FBI.
Whitehead, 44, is known for his flamboyance. He preaches a "prosperity gospel" while driving a Rolls Royce. He also wears pricey jewelry and Gucci suits.
In 2013, he was released from prison after serving a five-year sentence for multiple counts of identity fraud and grand larceny.
Feds say Whitehead, the head of Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in Brooklyn, New York, "swindled a member of his congregation out of $90,000 of her retirement savings by promising to use the cash to buy her a home. Instead, he blew it on "luxury goods" and clothing, according to the indictment.
But it doesn't end there.
Whitehead is also accused of extorting $5,000 from a businessman and asked that man to lend him $500,000, promising he could "obtain favorable actions by the New York City government" in exchange for the cash and interest in real estate transactions, the indictment read.
Whitehead pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan federal court and was released on $500,000 bond. The preacher lives in New Jersey, but will have his travel restricted to the tri-state area as part of his bond package.
The federal government is determined that this will be the last of Whitehead's criminal activity.
"His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after Whitehead's arrest.
"If you are willing to attempt to obtain funds through false promises or threats, the FBI will ensure that you are made to face the consequences for your actions in our criminal justice system," FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll added in a statement.
Whitehead's attorney maintains Whitehead's innocence, saying her client denies the charges.
"We are vigorously going to defend these accusations. We feel that he is being targeted and he is being turned from a victim into a villain," Attorney Dawn Florio said. "This all stems out of a civil lawsuit that is being handled in civil court. He will be vindicated."
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Shawn A. Akers is the online editor for Charisma Media.
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