Plumber who found cash stashed in wall of Joel Osteen’s church gifted $20,000 reward


FILE – Flags fly in front of the Lakewood Church June 28, 2005 in Houston. Authorities are investigating whether cash and checks discovered during repair work being done at Pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch is connected to $600,000 that was stolen from a church safe more than seven years ago. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan File)

HOUSTON (KIAH) – A plumber who discovered stacks of cash and checks inside a wall at celebrity televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church last month has been awarded $20,000 by Crime Stoppers of Houston. 

Investigators believe the find may have something to do with a 2014 theft at the megachurch, police confirmed.

The plumber made the claim Thursday morning during a call-in to a Houston radio show, saying he found the envelopes around a month back while working in a bathroom.

“I went to go remove the toilet and I moved some insulation away and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall. I was like, ‘Oh wow,’” the plumber said on the Houston radio program, as first reported by Click2Houston.

At the time, Crime Stoppers of Houston offered a cash reward of up to $5,000. Lakewood Church added a supplement reward of $20,000 yielding a potential reward of up to $25,000 for the person or persons with information leading to identification, charging and/or arrest in the case.

By 2016, Lakewood decided to shift that supplemental reward into a charitable donation to Crime Stoppers of Houston.

An “undisclosed amount” of money was found, police said, though it was left with the church. Authorities now believe the find is connected to a 2014 theft at the church, during which $600,000 in donations was stolen.

On Friday, Dec. 3, as more details were revealed, Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious began talking to Deputy Director Nichole Christoph who also discussed the issues with their law enforcement partners.

Mankarious also began asking the Crime Stoppers Executive Committee if the organization could gift $20,000, the amount originally given to Crime Stoppers by Lakewood, to the Good Samaritan plumber who made the discovery and turned in the money.

On Tuesday, Mankarious received the approval to move forward with the gift.

Crime Stoppers of Houston is a public safety organization that thrives on the public safety of all communities. We believe that it takes all of us, working together, to keep Houston safe and thriving. 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.


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