‘Bling Bishop’ Who Boasted of Ties to Eric Adams Is Convicted of Fraud

Lamor Whitehead, a Brooklyn preacher known as the “bling bishop” for his flashy luxury possessions, was convicted in Manhattan federal court on Monday of defrauding a parishioner and trying to extort a businessman while boasting about his ties to Mayor Eric Adams.

Mr. Whitehead, 45, was pronounced guilty on five counts, including wire fraud, attempted extortion and lying to the F.B.I. Prosecutors said that Mr. Whitehead, who had a previous conviction for identity theft, had lied and threatened to force his victims to give him money, and had misrepresented his relationship with the mayor.

“He was lying about the access, he was lying about the influence, he was lying about all of it,” Derek Wikstrom, a prosecutor, said in his closing argument.

The government said that Mr. Whitehead had persuaded the parishioner, Pauline Anderson, to invest about $90,000 of her retirement savings with him — and had then spent the money on car payments and goods from Louis Vuitton and Foot Locker. Other charges relate to his interactions with Brandon Belmonte, who was running an auto body shop in the Bronx. Mr. Whitehead tried to force Mr. Belmonte to lend him $500,000, while promising access to Mr. Adams, prosecutors said.

In the defense’s closing arguments, Declan Murray, one of Mr. Whitehead’s lawyers, likened criminal trials to the process of buying a house. He charged that the government’s case — the house, in this analogy — was poorly constructed and ridden with termites.

But the jury was not swayed by the defense.

Mr. Whitehead’s sentencing is set for July 1. He could face decades in prison.

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