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Bishop Lamor Whitehead
The “Bling Bishop” and Eric Adams apparently don’t speak anymore, but both say that God is on their side.
- Identity thief
- Real estate dabbler
- Streetwear model
- Self-proclaimed “Bishop,” Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries
- Federally indicted for shaking down an auto body shop while touting his connections to Eric Adams
Many New Yorkers got their first glimpse of Bishop Lamor Whitehead in May 2022, when he tried to contact Mayor Eric Adams while attempting to negotiate the surrender of a gunman who killed a man on the Q train. He claimed he had known Adams for years and that Adams was a mentor to him, something Adams didn’t deny. (The brokered surrender never happened, though Adams was reportedly mulling it.) A few months later, Whitehead was robbed during a sermon in Canarsie, where gunmen took off with high-priced jewelry, all captured on a livestream of the service. Just days after that, the CITY reported that a parishioner of Whitehead’s Canarsie-based ministry had sued him, claiming that he defrauded her out of her life savings. Whitehead denied the accusations to the Daily News.
It was a busy few months for Whitehead, and underlying it all was the question: Just how well did Eric Adams know this self-proclaimed “bishop” who had served prison time for grand larceny and identity fraud when he was younger? The answer, as pieced together by reporters over the next few months, was that Whitehead wasn’t lying—while Adams was borough president, the two had spent a lot of time working together.
Whitehead’s father, Arthur Miller, was killed by police officers in Crown Heights in 1978. Adams said that history is what drew him to Whitehead.
“As a Black man, I have an obligation to mentor other Black men that have had negative encounters in their lives,” Adams told reporters in 2022.
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In 2014, Whitehead showed up at a meeting meant to organize resistance to a rezoning in Crown Heights that Adams supported. With roughly ten other men, Whitehead and others broke up the event. “I thought that my friend Eric Adams was out of his goddam mind,” one confidante of Adams told the New Yorker, about his relationship with Whitehead. “He gave this guy a key to Borough Hall.”
Whitehead frequently invoked Adams’s name when fundraising for various non-profit efforts, such as when he attempted to organize a gospel show at the Barclays Center in 2014. The two also reportedly hung out at Woodland, a restaurant on Flatbush Avenue owned by the Petrosyants brothers. When the Petrosyantses pleaded guilty to financial crimes related to insurance fraud in 2014, Whitehead wrote them a letter of support. In 2016, Adams called Whitehead his “good friend” and “brother,” while defending his associations.
Whitehead even attempted to follow in Adams’s footsteps, launching a 2021 campaign for Brooklyn borough president (it netted him just 4,063 votes out of a total 288,500 cast). According to a Hell Gate investigation, Whitehead refused to pay at least one person who worked on the campaign, and accepted an “illegal” $150,000 campaign contribution, 100 times over the legal limit, which he used to fund the majority of his campaign. After Hell Gate’s reporting, federal prosecutors wrote in a letter to a federal judge that they’re currently looking into a straw donor scheme related to his 2021 run.
“It’s clear that this is not legal—not a murky legal question,” Rachael Fauss of Reinvent Albany, an organization that tracks transparency in New York politics, said when we asked about the campaign contribution. “It’s a pretty clear-cut case, which is rare when it comes to election law.” Whitehead has yet to face any consequences for the apparently illegal contribution, as the Campaign Finance Board is still auditing 2021 campaigns. Even then, he would only face a possible $10,000 fine.
Recently, Whitehead has gotten himself in trouble while allegedly dropping the mayor’s name. According to federal prosecutors, Whitehead tried to fleece an auto mechanic in the Bronx to fix up his Mercedes essentially for free, in return for getting Adams to help the mechanic with a land deal. The mechanic went straight to the feds, they set up a sting, and in December 2022, Whitehead found himself under indictment. The case has yet to go to trial.
When Adams was last asked about the arrest in January, he told reporters that “all of this is going to play itself out in the judicial system and let it do so,” declining to go into more details about his relationship with Whitehead.
“I don’t need to talk to the mayor right now and I don’t need him to talk to me,” Whitehead told the Daily News this past summer. “This is a witch hunt against the mayor, and I am collateral damage.”
Bishop Whitehead did not respond to a request for comment.
If his own federal charges are stressing him out, Whitehead doesn’t show it, and seems more committed than ever to keep posting through it.
“The Bible says so clearly in the book of Genesis—I love the Bible so much—Genesis 29:31, it says, ‘And when God saw that Leah was hated, he opened up a womb,'” Whitehead told his Instagram audience earlier this month. He was sitting in the backseat of a car with Rolls Royce logos on the headrests. “So if he saw Leah get hated on, he saw Bishop Whitehead and you, get hated on. But that hate is needed for the miracle to happen…The bigger the hate, the bigger the miracle.”
In recent weeks, as federal investigators have continued to probe his campaign, Adams has turned to church congregations to explain the significance of his mayoralty.
“I live within the confines of my religious beliefs,” Adams told congregants at the Purpose Life Church in Brooklyn. “I’m here to serve and God would never bring me to where I am right now if I did not stay true to who he told me to be.”
Bishop Whitehead remains under indictment for his December 2022 arrest.
- The Mayor and the Con Man | The New Yorker
- NYC pastor explains how he became involved in subway shooting suspect’s surrender | New York Post
- Brooklyn Pastor Robbed During Sermon Stole Parishioner’s Savings, Lawsuit Alleges | The CITY
- Adams-Connected Bishop Allegedly Stiffed Campaign Worker While Accepting ‘Not Legal’ $150K Contribution | Hell Gate
Last updated: 12/18/2023
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