Plumber Receives $20K For Finding Stolen Cash At Joel Osteen’s Church

By RobertMWorsham - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

A local plumber found hundreds of envelopes of cash stuffed behind the wall off a bathroom in Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch, and received a cool $20K for his discovery.

Lakewood Church reported a theft of almost $600K in checks and cash donations in 2014, but the case went unsolved until a plumber named Justin removed a loose toilet on Nov. 10, and nearly 500 envelopes fell out of the wall.

Justin called his supervisor and turned in the money like the good Samaritan he is, but didn’t even get so much as a phone call from the church, acknowledging his find.

“I wanted to hear [Joel Osteen] say, ‘You know, Justin, what you did was right. We understand what you did and what you could have done,’” he explained. “I feel like, at this point, I should have heard something. I’m just a little upset.” 

While both Osteen and Lakewood have failed to reach out to him directly, Crime Stoppers of Houston decided to honor him in a huge way.

“In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations. Today, we are gifting that same about of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season,” Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious commented.

Osteen’s church had previously put up a $20K reward in an effort to supplement a reward for information about the missing donations, but donated the money to Crime Stoppers when no leads came to fruition by 2016.

Evidence “recovered from the checks” and money orders in the envelopes tied the found funds to the $600,000 stolen from the church’s safe seven years ago.

Lakewood Church finally did comment about Justin’s discovery after he was gifted the $20K, and encouraged him to donate the payout to others in need. 

“In 2016, Lakewood Church made a $20,000 charitable donation to Crime Stoppers of Houston to help solve this case and support them for all they do for the community,” they said in a statement. “We are appreciative of the plumber and we hope he pays the gift forward.”

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