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Brooklyn Pastor Lamor Whitehead arrested for fraud, extortion & false statements

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The flashy, jewelry-flaunting Brooklyn pastor who reported being robbed while preaching at his church this past summer was arrested on federal charges Monday — unrelated to the July incident — for allegedly defrauding a parishioner, trying to extort a businessman and lying to the FBI, according to a federal indictment.

Lamor Whitehead, the 45-year-old pastor who goes by “Bishop,” was charged with wire fraud, attempted wire fraud, attempted extortion and making a material false statement, the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announced. He faces up to 65 years in prison for his alleged crimes.

As the pastor of Leaders of TomorrowInternational Ministry, Whitehead allegedly defrauded one of his parishioners out of about$90,000 from her retirement savings over the course of at least 14 months beginning around April 2020, according to the indictment. The document said Whitehead told the parishioner he would use her money to help her buy a home and invest the rest of the money, but instead used it “to purchase thousands of dollars of luxury goods and clothing” and “for his own purposes.”

Whitehead never helped her buy a home, the court document says, and never returned her money despite her request.

This spring, Whitehead allegedly attempted to convince a businessman to loan him about $500,000 and grant him a stake in real estate transactions in exchange for obtaining “favorable actions by the New York City government” that would make them “millions” — something the pastor knew he could not obtain, the indictment says. Earlier this year, he also allegedly used “threats of force” against that same businessman to extort $5,000 from him.

Further, Whitehead allegedly told FBI agents who were executing a search warrant that he had only one phone. But the indictment states he had a second phone that he used — including to text a message in which he described it as “my other phone,” the indictment states.

Whitehead appeared in court Monday and was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond, according to Attorney’s Office spokesman Nicholas Biase.

“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,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “His campaign of fraud and deceit stops now.”

Whitehead’s attorney, Dawn Florio, denied the accusations against Whitehead.

“Bishop Lamor Whitehead is not guilty of these charges,” Florio told CNN. “We are vigorously defending these accusations and we feel he is being targeted and being turned into a villain from a victim.”

A controversial pastor with extravagant tastes

 

Back in July, Whitehead said he was the victim of a robbery in which at least one masked and armed man entered Whitehead’s church and took jewelry from him and his wife, according to a separate federal indictment. Part of the incident was captured on a livestream video from inside the church that showed Whitehead put his hands up and complied with the gunmen’s demands.

He reported that the stolen jewelry was worth more than $1 million, raising questions as to how and why the pastor obtained and flaunted such displays of wealth.

Brooklyn pastor says he and his wife were robbed of more than $1 million in jewelry while preaching

In September, two men were indicted on federal charges for their alleged roles in the armed robbery, while a third defendant remains at large, according to the Department of Justice. Juwan Anderson, 23, and Say-Quan Pollack, 24, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a trial date is set for July, according to federal court records.

Whitehead’s verified Instagram account details his extravagant shows of wealth, including Louis Vuitton-emblazoned suits, large jewelry and brightly colored sports cars. In a video posted shortly after the robbery, he pushed back against the media headlines referring to him as “flashy.”

“It’s not about me being flashy. It’s about me purchasing what I want to purchase,” he said. “It’s my prerogative to purchase what I want to purchase. If I worked hard for it, I can purchase what I want to purchase.”

According to his bio on the Leaders of Tomorrow website, Whitehead attended the New York Theological Seminary and completed his studies with a certificate in Ministry in Human Services from the Theological Institution of Rising Hope Inc. It touts him as a licensed New York state chaplain and a certified marriage and funeral officiant. In 2013, he founded Leaders of Tomorrow Ministry in Brooklyn, his bio states.

Source: CNN 

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AU official calls out Germany over leopard jibe that left some offended

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A Leopard 2 tank is pictured during a demonstration event held for the media by the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. - Copyright © africanews Michael Sohn/AP2011

Germany apologized on Thursday (Jan. 26) for using a leopard emoji in a tweet refering to the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Africa. The post that was regarded as offensive by some users was called out by the spokeswoman for the African Union chairman Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The German foreign ministry attempted to poke fun at Russia’s top diplomat during his tour of Africa when it tweeted that he wasn’t there looking for leopards, but using the trip to try and justify Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The tweet, and the leopard emoji the foreign ministry used on its official account, apparently sought to play off Germany’s decision to send some of its advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to back its military fight off Russian forces.

An African Union official questioned the use of emoji, pointing it could be interpreted as the continent being portrayed once again as only about wild animals.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for AU Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, tweeted back to the German government account questioning if Africa, its people and its wildlife was “just a joke to you?”

“Foreign policy is not a joke nor should it be used to score cheap geopolitical points by illustrating an entire Continent with colonial tropes,” Kalondo wrote in a follow-up tweet.

The German foreign ministry apologized and said that the tweet wasn’t meant to offend, but rather “to call out the lies that Russia uses to justify its imperialist war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Lavrov has visited South Africa, Eswatini, Angola and Eritrea this week, where he has repeated his claims that the United States and its Western allies are using Ukraine as a tool in a “hybrid war” against Russia.

Many African nations hold historical ties with Moscow. South Africa was one of several to abstain from a U.N. vote last year condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Eritrea voted against the resolution alongside Russia, Belarus, North Korea and Syria.

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Bomb injures at least a dozen people near a market in north-eastern DR Congo

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Congolese Defense Forces soldiers inspect the scene of an attack near the town of Oicha, 30 kms (20 miles) from Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday July 23, 2021.

A bomb exploded at a market in eastern Congo on Wednesday (Jan. 25), injuring at least a dozen people, authorities said.

An unknown person detonated a bomb inside a bag in North Kivu’s Beni town, said Tharcisse Katembo, a local official.

“Damage was documented (and) at least 12 people were injured. They were injured in the lower limbs, others in their upper limbs and others were hit in the head,” he told reporters in Beni.

The victims were taken to the hospital and an investigation was underway, Katembo said.

No one claimed responsibility for the bomb. However, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces, which is believed to be linked with the Islamic State extremist movement, have been increasing in North Kivu, according to the United Nations.

Deadly violence

Earlier this month, at least 14 people were killed and dozens injured in an attack on a church in Kasindi town, which was claimed by Islamic State. It said in its Aamaq news outlet that it planted an explosive device inside the church and detonated it while people were praying.

Since April, attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces have killed at least 370 civilians, and the group has abducted several hundred more, including a significant number of children, the U.N. says.

The explosion Wednesday (Jan. 25) occurred in a local market next to a cassava mill, witnesses said.

Danny Syaghuswa, 16, said he was sitting on his motorcycle when a man in a striped shirt put a small bag behind a door, saying he would come back for it, according to an interview with local reporters heard by The Associated Press. “Less than five minutes after he left the bomb exploded,” Syaghuswa said.

Images of the attack circulating on chat groups show people lying on the floor. One woman in blood-stained clothes was carrying a small child.

Violence has wracked eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and self-defense militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab terrorists storm mayor’s office, killing six

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Al-Shabaab terrorists set off a bomb and stormed a government building in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.  The Al-Qaeda-backed terror group has stepped up bombings in the country.

At least six people were killed on Sunday in an attack by Al Shabaab militants at the mayor’s office in central Mogadishu, police said.

A suicide bomber set off a huge blast that tore through building near the office complex with gunfire erupting afterwards, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said at the end of the four-hour siege.

“All the six attackers died. Five of them during the fire exchange with the security forces and one of them detonated himself,” Dudishe told reporters.

“Six civilians also died during the attack and the situation is back to normal.” All the staffers at the mayor’s office were rescued, the police added.

Al 0Shabaab, a militant group allied with Al Qaeda claimed, responsibility for the attack via its communication channels, saying its fighters “made their way inside the targeted building after killing the security guards.” Witnesses said the initial explosion damaged nearby buildings and gunfire could be heard in the vicinity of the mayor’s office.

The area was quickly cordoned off by security officers, a witness who runs a business near the offices said.

Another witness, Omar Nur, said he was inside a nearby mall when the explosion went off and “was lucky to have escaped safely.” The Al Shabaab militants have been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally backed central government for 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

The latest attack comes days after seven soldiers were killed on Friday at a military camp in Galcad, a town in central Somalia about 375 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu. The US military said the attack — in the Somali town retaken by the army this week — involved more than 100 Al Shabaab jihadists.

“The combined actions by partner forces on the ground and the collective self-defence strike is estimated to have resulted in three destroyed vehicles and approximately thirty Al Shabaab terrorists killed” the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) said in a statement.

Source: Dawn

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