Two men have been arrested and charged with stealing $1 million worth of jewelry from a Brooklyn pastor during a live-streamed service this summer.
Police announced Wednesday that Juwan Anderson and Say-quan Pollack, both 23-year-old Brooklyn residents, face federal armed robbery charges. They were each indicted on three counts for conspiracy, robbery and possessing a firearm while committing a violent crime. If convicted, they would spend a minimum of 10 years behind bars, authorities said at a press conference.
“A very violent robbery crew that we saw with no regard to anybody, going in the middle of Mass, holding a child at gunpoint — that’s a pretty rough robbery,” said NYPD Inspector Nicholas Fiore, explaining why the department had chosen to pursue a federal case.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead was preaching in his Canarsie church on July 24 when police said three men wearing black ski masks walked inside. He and his wife were both wearing expensive jewelry, which the police department has valued at about $1 million — a figure that Whitehead has refuted. Two of them approached the stage with guns and demanded his property. Within about a minute-and-a-half, police said, both Whitehead and his wife had been robbed. None of the jewelry has been recovered, according to the NYPD.
The department said its Brooklyn robbery squad worked with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to find the men by using video and electronic tracking, though officials did not elaborate further on their investigative methods. Police said they have also identified a third person they believe was involved in the robbery, but they have not yet arrested him or shared his name.
Whitehead celebrated the news on his Instagram.
"I really want to first thank God. I want to thank my family. This is such a relief,” he said in a video. “I want to thank the greatest church in the world, Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries, and I want to thank all of you that have been praying.”
Whitehead’s lavish lifestyle has been the subject of controversy. After the robbery, news site The City reported that the pastor was sued in 2021 for allegedly stealing $90,000 from a parishioner’s retirement savings. The New York Post reported in 2016 that he owed $260,000 to a symphony conductor for a court case related to a personal loan. Whitehead has also been convicted of identity fraud and grand larceny.
Whitehead, who is friends with Mayor Eric Adams, has denied the allegations in the lawsuit and defended himself against other allegations of wrongdoing. The NYPD said at its press conference that he might have been targeted because of the expensive jewelry that he wears, noting that there’s been a pattern of high-end jewelry robberies in recent years.