Say-Quan Pollack, 25, pleaded guilty to a federal robbery charge for stealing jewelry from Bishop Lamor Whitehead during a live-streamed sermon in July 2022 and a judge is expected to sentence him in the coming months.
Pollack swiveled in his chair and occasionally rubbed his face during the proceedings, which lasted about half an hour. At times, Pollack asked Judge William F. Kuntz II to repeat his questions before he responded with a “yes” or a “no.”
“I participated in a robbery,” he said after pleading guilty. “I took another person’s property with a threat.”
He said he went to school through eighth grade and received a high school equivalency degree in jail.
Bishop Lamor Whitehead was preaching at Leaders of Tomorrow International Church in Canarsie last year when three men entered the church with guns drawn, according to prosecutors. A video of the incident, which was live-streamed as some parishioners watched from home, shows the pastor dropping to the ground as the men approached, dressed in all black and wearing masks.
“Yo, alright, alright, alright,” Whitehead can be heard saying in the video.
Police arrested Pollack and Juwan Anderson, and they were later indicted on federal gun and robbery charges. Pollack was expected to plead guilty earlier this year, but he withdrew from a deal with prosecutors moments before a court appearance.
Anderson has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial while out on bond. A third person who took part in the robbery has not been found, according to prosecutors.
Whitehead, who has called himself a “mentee” of Mayor Eric Adams, is known for his posh fashion sense and penchant for designer clothing and jewelry. Police said after the robbery that the men stole more than $1 million worth of jewelry from the bishop and his wife — an amount that Whitehead has downplayed. A list of stolen items previously provided to Gothamist by the NYPD included a $390,000 chain and a $125,000 wedding ring.
Whitehead has been in the news numerous times for reasons not related to his robbery.
In May 2022, he said he knew the man who shot a stranger on the Q train and was helping to negotiate his surrender to police.
After his robbery went viral, Whitehead faced scrutiny for making homophobic and fatphobic language during an interview.
Later that year, he was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on charges that he stole $90,000 of retirement savings from a church member. Whitehead has pleaded not guilty and disputes the allegations.
After the plea hearing, Whitehead said he feels like prosecutors and the media have turned him from a victim into a villain because he is a Black man with high-end style. Dressed in a fur-lined jacket and diamond earrings, the pastor said he, his wife and his church are still traumatized from the robbery. He wants Pollack to receive the maximum possible sentence.
“His mindset does not need to be on the streets,” Whitehead said.
Whitehead called the men who robbed him “scumbags” and said they should have treated him better as a member of the clergy.
“Everybody always asks me, ‘Oh, Bishop, do you forgive them?’ You know, I’m still praying about that,” he said. “In theory I do forgive them, but the hurt is so immense.”