When a story begins with a pastor, an armed robbery in the pulpit and $1 million worth of ice, it’s headed to bad places. So of course it wasn’t long before a little digging into the background of the Right Rev. Robbery Aintwright Bishop Lamor Whitehead of Brooklyn’s Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches turned up a lawsuit claiming that $90,000 in retirement money from a member of his flock ended up in Whitehead’s personal collection plate instead.
The lawsuit claims that Whitehead lured saved saint-turned-victim 56-year-old Pauline Anderson into a relationship of trust as she recovered from major surgery, then made off with her hard-earned nest egg. Adding another layer to the cake, Whitehead was also running for office to becomeBrooklyn borough president at the time (he lost). The lawsuit was filed last September in New York Supreme Court in Kings County.
As the great rapper, thespian and Brooklynite Yasiin Bey once put it, “This is how you get got.”
Anderson says her son, Rasheed, hooked up a prayer call with Whitehead in April of 2020. By July of that year, they were on the phone again, this time because Anderson wanted to buy a house. Whitehead, the lawsuit claims, counseled Anderson on raising her credit score and identifying a target property—all things a licensed Realtor, various TikTokers and Zillow might be more qualified to do than a preacher. Later that month, the Andersons’ pastor made his move during a three-way call with Primerica, the financial institution where Pauline Anderson had her life savings.
On that call, Mr. Whitehead directed Ms. Anderson and the TransAmerica representative in moving $100,000.00 from her IRA into Ms. Anderson’s personal checking account. 15. Mr. Whitehead did this for the purpose of perpetrating the fraud and conversion that will be set forth in further detail below.
What was that fraud? The lawsuit alleges that after Whitehead introduced Pauline Anderson to two different mortgage lenders who denied her because of credit, he suggested she invest her cash in his eponymous company under a promise he’d use it to buy a house for her, make any repairs and give her back her change, if any. With that verbal agreement—because who needs such things in writing—Anderson withdrew $90,000 from her checking account in November 2020 and handed it over to the preacher, never asking for so much as a receipt.
It’s at this point I’m forced to editorialize, not to make light of Anderson’s alleged victimization but to ask out of genuine curiosity when the red flags were going to start flying? New York is a city where most apartments rent for north of $3,000 per month. In Brooklyn, the median asking price for a house in Brooklyn is $975,000, according to StreetEasy, a website that tracks real estate markets. I gotta ask why the red flags weren’t at full mast by the time someone promised to take $90,000 and turn it into a fully-renovated house, with cash left to spare. End rant.
After several months of Pauline without her money or a new house, Whitehead accidentally emailed her son a contract for the purchase of a “palatial estate with an inground pool with a waterfall, outdoor fountains, hot tub, gym and wine cellar, among other luxury amenities,” in wealthy Saddle River, N.J. The purchase price: $4.4 million, and the lawsuit alleges Anderson’s $90,000 was used as the downpayment.
The transaction never went through. Whitehead did follow through with at least one promise, to provide Pauline Anderson with a single $100 monthly payment for living expenses in January 2021, according to the lawsuit.