On Sunday, New York Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead, during a two-hour service he titled “What Are You Made Of,” the “bling bishop” talked about his collection of Fendi, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton items. “It’s God’s design,” the preacher with Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches said in a clip posted to Instagram. “Wear what you want to wear because it was designed for you.” Miller-Whitehead was arrested on federal charges less than 24 hours later. A grand jury alleged that some of the bishop’s designer items weren’t a product of faith, but rather the result of bilking a member of his church. He is also accused of attempting to extort a businessman and of lying to federal investigators, the Washington Post reports. “His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. On Monday, Miller-Whitehead pleaded not guilty to four charges, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, and deceiving the FBI. His attorney, Dawn Florio, said Miller-Whitehead "feels that he is being targeted and being turned into a villain from a victim.” Miller-Whitehead was released after posting a $500,000 bond.
Miller-Whitehead made headlines in July when three masked gunmen entered his church and made off with $1 million worth of jewelry from the bishop and his wife during a live-streamed service. The incident garnered international attention, but in its aftermath, questions began swirling about Miller-Whitehead’s flamboyant lifestyle — and soon, some of the bishop’s previous legal battles were put under the spotlight. One of the incidents to resurface included a 2021 lawsuit claiming Miller-Whitehead had promised to help a parishioner buy a home. The woman was recovering from “life-threatening surgery,” after she liquidated her savings account in 2020. He is accused of using $90,000 the woman had withdrawn from her retirement account as part of the down payment toward a $4.4 million New Jersey property. After months passed without a home purchase, the woman confronted Miller-Whitehead, who allegedly said he had no obligation to repay her since the money she provided counted as an investment in his unsuccessful campaign for Brooklyn borough president in 2021. A year later, the woman’s lawsuit became part of the indictment against Miller-Whitehead. The indictment also claims Miller-Whitehead made “threats of force” to get $5,000 from a businessman’s company earlier this year. Then between April and May, the bishop allegedly tried to persuade the same unnamed businessman to lend him $500,000 and give him a “stake in certain real-estate transactions.” In exchange, prosecutors said, Miller-Whitehead promised to “obtain favorable action from the New York City government” in a move that would enrich both the bishop and the businessman with “millions.”