New York Daily News: By Chris Sommerfeldt – Indicted Brooklyn pastor Lamor Whitehead claimed last year that he keeps guns at his church and maintains such a close relationship with Mayor Adams that he can get him to take a meeting with anyone, according to a new court filing from federal prosecutors.

Whitehead — who’s facing criminal charges for allegedly extorting a businessman, swindling a retired parishioner, lying to the FBI and filing false bank documents — made the extraordinary comments about weapons and the mayor in conversations caught on audio recordings the feds say they have.

Describing the recordings in Manhattan Federal Court papers last week, the feds alleged Whitehead told Brandon Belmonte, the Bronx businessman he’s accused of extorting, that they could “make so much money together” thanks to his ties to Adams.

“It’s unreal, bro. My connections, even with [Adams], but underneath connections. … But bro, we gotta be all-in,” Whitehead allegedly told Belmonte last spring, adding that he could convince the mayor to “sit down with whoever I need him to sit down with,” according to the March 29 court filing.

In his indictment, which was unsealed in December, prosecutors in the Manhattan US attorney’s office charged Whitehead squeezed Belmonte for a $500,000 investment in exchange for a promise that he’d use his Adams connections to secure favorable actions from the city government related to a real estate venture.

Adams, who has been close with Whitehead since his days as Brooklyn borough president, isn’t facing any accusations of wrongdoing. The feds have also stressed that Whitehead touted the promises of official actions from the mayor even though “he knew he could not obtain” them.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Adams, highlighted that claim from the feds when asked for comment Thursday, and said the mayor, a former NYPD captain, “spent decades enforcing the law and he expects everyone to follow it.”

“The U.S. attorney’s office made clear that Lamor Whitehead knew he could not deliver on the claims he made,” Levy said.

It was not previously known, though, what exactly Whitehead told Belmonte about the mayor, who has declined to completely distance himself from his pastor pal since his indictment.

Mayor Eric Adams answers questions about Bishop Lamor Whitehead at New York City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Manhattan.
Mayor Eric Adams answers questions about Bishop Lamor Whitehead at New York City Hall on Tuesday, Jab 17, 2023, in Manhattan – Barry Willilams/for New York Daily News

In another previously unknown wrinkle, prosecutors wrote in last week’s filing they also caught Whitehead on tape last year saying, “I got guns in the church,” in reference to Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries, the location in Canarsie, Brooklyn where he preaches.

It’s unclear from the filing who Whitehead allegedly made the gun comment to, but prosecutors wrote it was the basis for the FBI to raid the church in June 2022.

Whitehead previously served time in prison over a 2008 identity theft conviction, and the prosecutors wrote that his claim about weapons prompted them to suspect he “was unlawfully in possession of a firearm” as a felon.

However, the FBI did not find any guns during the raid, they wrote. Whitehead, who’s known for wearing flashy clothes, riding luxury cars and delivering sermons via Instagram, has not been charged with any weapons-related crimes.

Whitehead has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him and is free on a $500,000 bond.

Front page of the New York Daily News for Dec. 21, 2022: I'm innocent until proven guilty, says bishop freed on bail in parishioner ripoff rap. Brooklyn jewelry-loving Bishop Lamor Whitehead faces federal fraud charges.
Front page of the New York Daily News for Dec. 21, 2022: I’m innocent until proven guilty, says bishop freed on bail in parishioner ripoff rap. Brooklyn jewelry-loving Bishop Lamor Whitehead faces federal fraud charges. (New York Daily News)

In a series of recent interviews with the Daily News, the pastor did not deny talking about guns at his church, but maintained his innocence and said the matter is “asked and answered” since the feds didn’t find any firearms.

About the charges he’s facing, Whitehead said he believes he’s the victim of “entrapment” and that Belmonte is a “con man” who “set me up” because of “my relationship with the mayor.”

A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

Lamor Whitehead is pictured outside Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
Lamor Whitehead is pictured outside Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday, Sept 28, 2022 – Barry Williams/for New York Daily News

Whitehead’s lawyers have asked a Manhattan Federal Court judge to throw out evidence provided to the feds by Belmonte, painting him as an untrustworthy source, citing his past run-in with the laws, which includes a 2004 conviction for identity theft and larceny. So far, the judge has declined to act on the requests.

In his interviews with The News, Whitehead said he still sees Adams as a “mentor, like a big brother or an uncle or a father.”

But he said he doesn’t speak with the mayor regularly anymore because of what’s going on.

“I don’t need to talk to the mayor right now and I don’t need him to talk to me,” he said. “This is a witch hunt against the mayor, and I am collateral damage.”

Top Feature Photo: Bishop Lamor Whitehead is pictured in Brooklyn on Friday, July 29, 2022 – Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News