A US pastor who made headlines earlier this year after he was robbed of $1million (£830,000) worth of jewellery during a live-stream service, has been charged with fraud and extortion after he allegedly deceived his congregation.
NYC prosecutors say pastor Lamor Miller-Whitehead asked money from parishioners with the promise of enriching them but pocketed the money, sometimes using it for purchasing luxury goods.
The head of the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries is also accused of lying to the FBI.
In a statement, US attorney Damian Williams said: “As we allege today, Lamor Whitehead abused the trust placed in him by a parishioner, bullied a businessman for $5,000, then tried to defraud him of far more than that, and lied to federal agents.”
“His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now,” he added.
The 45-year-old pastor faces a maximum of 65 years in prison, with charges of wire fraud and extortion each carrying maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and lying to investigators carrying a maximum of five.
Lawyer for Pastor Lamor, Dawn Florio, said that her client “denies these allegations” and promised “to fight them vigorously”.
The charges against pastor Lamor predate the armed robbery he suffered in July, with some of the alleged fraud dating back to 2020.
In September, two people were charged with the robbery.