2 men arrested for stealing pastor during church service

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NEW YORK — Two men were arrested on Wednesday for the robbery of a flashy Brooklyn pastor who was delivering a sermon in July on keeping the faith when armed masked men crashed into the service and stole more than $1 million in jewelry to the pastor and his wife.

The men arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn were identified as Say-Quan Pollack and Juwan Anderson, both 23 years old. Authorities said a third person charged in the case remains at large. Lawyers for the men declined to comment. Anderson was to be released on $50,000 bail while Pollack was held pending a bail application.

The men stole jewelry from the pastor, Lamor Miller-Whitehead, and his wife, “terrifying the congregation in the process,” after they entered the church service masked and dressed in black, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in Brooklyn said in a press release.

Miller-Whitehead, known for his flashy persona that includes expensive jewelry and trips in his Rolls Royce, is a friend of New York Mayor Eric Adams. The former police captain met Miller-Whitehead when he was Brooklyn borough president for eight years before becoming mayor in January.

During a press conference, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives James Essig said that detectives from the Brooklyn Robbery Squad and federal officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco , Firearms and Explosives used video and electronic tracking methods to help solve the problem. criminality.

NYPD Inspector Nicholas Fiore said federal charges brought under the Hobbs Act were favored in the prosecution because the charges carry a minimum prison term of 10 years on conviction because the theft was committed with a firearm.

Fiore called the robbery “quite brutal”, noting that a gun was pointed at a child at one point.

If convicted on charges of robbery, conspiracy and robbery, the men could face life in prison.

Federal prosecutors are seeking Pollack’s remand, saying in a court filing that his criminal history, overwhelming evidence of his guilt, and the stiff penalties he faces after his conviction make him a danger to the community and a flight threat.

At the time of the theft, Miller-Whitehead’s sermon was being streamed live online. Moments before the thieves entered the scene, Miller-Whitehead could be heard asking parishioners, “How many of you lost your faith because you saw someone else die?”

Miller-Whitehead, 44, formed Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries in 2013 after serving a five-year prison sentence for identity theft and robbery. Whitehead claims he was unlawfully convicted.

Miller-Whitehead came to federal court Wednesday in part to dispel any notion he was involved in the crime, saying in court that he hoped the arrests would put an end to false rumors “that I had something to do with this.… My family and my church have been very traumatized. I hope we will get justice.

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Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.

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