The Texas plumber who found hundreds of cash-stuffed envelopes strewn throughout the walls of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church has been awarded with a cool $20,000 by Crime Stoppers of Houston.
The plumber, who has only been identified as Justin, found roughly 500 envelopes hidden in the walls of the church last month, raising questions about why the famously wealthy celebrity televangelist had cash bizarrely stored away inside building.
Houston police say that the recovered money was actually stashed away by robbers who pilfered the funds from a church safe in 2014, when about $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks went missing.
At the time, the Crime Stoppers group offered a $5,000 reward for information on the case, with the megachurch offering a supplemental reward of $20,000 which they donated to the organization.
The plumber discovered the envelopes behind a toilet as he was doing repairs last month, seven years after the $600,000 was reported stolen.
“Evidence from the recovered checks suggests that the discovery of was connected to a March 2014 theft,” Crime Stoppers of Houston said in a statement.
After Justin found the envelopes, Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious requested that the organization gift $20,000 to him for his good deed of returning the money.
“In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case. In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations,” Mankarious explained. “Today, we are gifting that same (amount) of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season.”
Justin had previously expressed that he was dissatisfied and upset about not hearing a word of gratitude from the mega-church after making the discovery. In an interview, he said:
“I wanted to hear [Osteen] say, ‘You know, Justin, what you did was right. We understand what you did and what you could have done.’”
The Houston Police Department is continuing to investigate the case, and left the undisclosed funds in the custody of Lakewood Church.
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