Bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead had a rough week. First, he was robbed of $1 million in jewelry during a Sunday sermon. Then the video of the attack went viral, with most of the comments focusing on the pastor's flashy choices of clothes and luxurious cars. Finally, the media started digging into pastor's troubled past. The newest revelations come from the New York Times. The newspaper revealed Whitehead's alleged ID theft, fraud, and the "wild life" that predated the crime being caught on camera. Read on to learn more about the controversial bishop and his history.
His Father Was Choked to Death by Police
In 1978 the New York Times reported about a Brooklyn businessman who was strangled in a struggle with police officers. "A 30 year old businessman and community leader in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn was choked to death Wednesday evening by policemen trying to arrest him during a street confrontation," the newspaper wrote. An autopsy "showed that fatal force had been applied to the larynx of the businessman, Arthur Miller, the father of four children, by a forearm or a police stick." According to NYT, the youngest of the orphaned kids was a baby who grew up to become bishop Lamor Miller Whitehead.
From Mean Streets to Mortgage Broker
Growing up in a single-parent home "on the mean streets of Brooklyn" wasn't easy, as the pastor himself admits, but he managed to get an education. "He attended Eastern New Mexico University, where he studied accounting and videography, and returned to Brooklyn, where he went to work as a mortgage broker in Manhattan," NYT reports.
"Living the High Llife"
The office salary apparently wasn't enough for the young and ambitious broker. He started to fund new ideas for additional income, and some of them, according to the Times, turned out to be illegal. "Mr. Whitehead stole the identities of at least a dozen people. He took out loans in their names and bought cars and motorcycles, according to his indictment in Suffolk County in 2006," NYT reports. "He was very, very good. He's a high roller. He was living the high life. He's got a couple of girlfriends," a Suffolk County detective told the New York Post at the time.
But the good times were about to end. According to the Times, Whitehead filed for bankruptcy in 2006, citing as income the $10,000 a month he was earning as a mortgage broker.
Yesterday's Prisoner, Tomorrow Minister
Two years later, he was convicted of 17 counts, mostly identity theft, and sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison. After serving five years in prison, Whitehead was released "with a glowing behavioral record," Times reports. Soon after being released, Whitehead created the church of Leaders of Tomorrow Ministries. He had help from "43 people who believed and met in his home for Bible study," according to his biography. "I have a calling and I had to do what I had to do," he recalled, according to NYT.
Even after discovering the calling, accusations didn't stop following the controversial pastor.
"Court records from New Jersey show that Bishop Whitehead owes more than $400,000 in judgments to a construction company that built his house and the credit union that financed his Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover — revelations that he has dismissed," reports the Times.
"The reason people can't figure me out is because they're trying to figure me out the wrong way," Bishop Whitehead told the Times. "What you see is what you'll get." With a tendency to be visible, there is a decent chance that we will get more of Bishop Whitehead news in the future.