Rolls-Royce-Driving Robbed Pastor Claims He Was Turned From "Victim to Villain"
"If it was an insurance thing, right, why would I do it in my church?"
The Brooklyn pastor who made headlines after he was robbed of jewelry during a valued at $1 million during a live-streamed church service is speaking out about the resulting controversy. Soon after Lamor Miller Whitehead was robbed at the pulpit on July 24, online rumors began flying that the heist was a setup for an insurance payout, and news reports have discussed the pastor's previous criminal convictions, real-estate-related court judgments, and a lawsuit alleging he stole money from a parishoner. In an interview with iHeart Radio personality Jazmyn Summers, Whitehead addressed the accusations, claiming he's been made "a villain" in the press and on social media.
Lamor Miller Whitehead, the bishop at Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches in Canarsie, Brooklyn, has been described as "flashy," reportedly driving a Rolls-Royce and wearing conspicuous jewelry. The former candidate for Brooklyn borough president in 2020 is a close associate of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. He was previously convicted of identity theft and served time in New York state prison. Recently, he has been accused of stealing $90,000 of life savings from a parishioner, and New Jersey and New York state courts have levied judgments against him for unpaid real estate debts.
In the interview, Whitehead was asked about "buzz on the internet that this was insurance fraud."
"It's unreal," he replied. "They turned me from being a victim to a villain. I believe and don't quote me, but I think it was about 12 to 15 pieces that were stolen between me and my wife, only three pieces were insured."
Whitehead further denied the insurance fraud accusation by noting that headlines about the robbery have disrupted his business. "I'm into real estate," he said. "And people are backing out of deals because of all of the press. But, why in the world would I set myself up, put my family and church in harm's way?"
"If it was an insurance thing, right, why would I do it in my church?" he added. "Why not have it done when I'm driving or something? They could pull be over and then boom."
Whitehead said criticism of his expensive wardrobe and accessories (which have been frequently photographed) has wounded him personally. "It hurts me, that I've been attacked by not only the other races but our own people," he said. "They're saying, why is a pastor wearing all these designers when we're in a poor environment? I wear what I want to feel like (prosperous). Why is he taking money from a church? First of all, I'm not on salary from the church. Number two: How are you guys automatically perceiving that my church is poor? I have a young ministry. We got all types of entrepreneurs. My church is not poor."
Whitehead said he believed the investigation into the robbery was progressing. "These guys left a lot of evidence," he said. "We know they jumped into a white Mercedes Benz."
Mayor Adams previously told the New York Daily News that "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" and said "The NYPD is investigating this crime and will work tirelessly to bring the criminals involved to justice."
Whitehead was asked about his previous conviction for identity theft, which resulted in him serving five years in state prison in 2008. Whitehead said his conviction was not legal. "I was convicted on some of the charges and I was acquitted of certain crimes," he said. "What people don't know is that I was illegally convicted. I had search warrants that were forged by the police officers. When you get a search warrant, you need a judge to sign off on it. The only thing that was on the search warrants was a stamp."
The pastor also addressed a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims to be a former member of his congregation and alleges he stole $90,000 from her. Whitehead denied the woman was a member of his church and said her son was responsible for an investment that lost money. "Her son used to go to my church, and her son wanted to invest and was in the whole investment piece, and she gave to him," he said. "At the end of the day, I didn't take anything from nobody. I don't hurt nobody. And when you see this come out, you will see the truth."