Brooklyn preacher gets 9 years in prison for multiyear fraud

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A flashy Brooklyn preacher who has played up connections to New York City’s mayor was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for multiple frauds.

Lamor Miller-Whitehead, 45, of Paramus, New Jersey, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who said she didn’t see meaningful remorse from the Rolls Royce-driving bishop convicted of fleecing one parishioner out of $90,000 in retirement savings, among other scams.

In a rambling statement, Miller-Whitehead claimed he was “very remorseful” but boasted of his good deeds for his community and expressed regrets about his trial, prompting the judge to interrupt him with a reminder that sentencing isn’t a time to relitigate the case.

“The jury heard the evidence. The jury rendered its verdict,” she said.

In March, a jury convicted Miller-Whitehead of all charges, including wire fraud, attempted extortion and making false statements. Schofield said the preacher committed perjury when he testified.

She said a significant prison sentence was necessary because there was a high probability that Miller-Whitehead would commit crimes in the future, particularly because previous convictions for similar crimes did not deter him from committing more crimes.

“You don’t seem to have an appreciation of the impact of your crimes,” Schofield said.

“Your honor, I am an honorable man and my children need me,” he said as he asked to be spared a prison term and requested to become the “poster child of another chance.”

Miller-Whitehead developed a friendship with Mayor Eric Adams while Adams served as Brooklyn’s borough president before his election to the city’s top job. Prosecutors contended that Miller-Whitehead used the name of Adams to commit fraud and attempted extortion.

Miller-Whitehead mentioned Adams during his remarks before the sentence was announced.

Asked about the sentence during an unrelated news briefing Monday, Adams said, “Bishop Whitehead is in my prayers and I wish the best for him.”

Miller-Whitehead became a religious figure in 2013 when he formed the Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries. He was also known to wear designer clothing and was once the victim of a robbery when $1 million in jewelry was stolen from him by gunmen who surprised him during a church service.

Although he preached primarily in Brooklyn, he owned a $1.6 million home in Paramus, New Jersey, and an apartment in Hartford, Connecticut.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wikstrom requested a sentence of over 12 years in prison, saying Miller-Whitehead had defrauded large financial institutions as well as the parishioner who lost her life savings.

“He didn’t discriminate. He defrauded everyone,” Wikstrom said.

Miller-Whitehead, Wikstrom said, “lied and he stole over and over again.”

“He can’t stop stealing. He won’t stop lying,” the prosecutor said. “This is who the defendant is.”

Wikstrom said Miller-Whitehead possessed a “psychological and delusional failure” to accept that he committed crimes and must be punished.

Besides the prison term, Miller-Whitehead also was ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution and to forfeit $95,000.

His lawyer, Dawn Florio, had urged no prison time, citing her client’s charitable works and saying “you can’t ignore all he has done in the community.”

If not for those good works, the judge said, Miller-Whitehead’s prison sentence would have been longer.

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