Plumber Who Found Hidden Cash And Checks At Joel Osteen's Church Rewarded $20,000 After Police Connect Money To 2014's Stolen Donation
A plumber who discovered hidden cash and checks in the wall of Joel Osteen's church during repair work received a reward from Crime Stoppers Houston after reporting his findings to the church supervisors.
According to reports, Justin Cauley had been granted $20,000 by the organization.
"In 2014, Lakewood Church gave us $20,000 to work on this case," Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious said in a statement. "In 2016, they chose to gift us those funds for operations. Today, we are gifting that same [amount] of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season."
After learning about the incident, Houston Police released a statement claiming the money might be related to the church's stolen donations report that took place seven years ago.
"Evidence from the recovered checks suggests this November case is connected to a Mar. 9, 2014 theft report of undisclosed amounts of money at the church," the statement read.
Cauley expressed his gratitude for the reward while talking to local news station KPRC claiming, "This money is going to help tremendously."
"Bills are stacking up," he added. "I'm trying to make the best of it, and today, the light shined through."
Meanwhile, Lakewood Church responded to the news via a statement, saying, "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, We are appreciative of the plumber, and we hope he pays the gift forward."
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Cauley uncovered a large pile of cash and checks stuffed in a wall at Osteen's church last month while trying to fix a broken toilet.
"There was a loose toilet in the wall, and we removed the tile," he explained during a radio interview on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. "We went to remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away, and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall, and I was like 'Oh wow!'" before noting, the envelopes found were filled with cash and checks.
The church had reported a break-in in 2014 that resulted in about $600,000 being stolen in addition to the missing check and deposit slips that listed parishioners' credit card information at Lakewood Church.
Investigators offered a reward of $25,000 for anyone who could provide information at the time, but no arrest had been made and the money was never found.
Following the discovery of the funds on Nov. 10, police were notified and called out to the church at about 2:30 PM.
"Burglary and theft officers responded and began investigating," the police said in a statement. "An undisclosed amount of money was inventoried, documented, and left in the custody of Lakewood Church since it was property found on its premises."
Lakewood Church welcomes about 52,000 attendees across multiple services per week, making it one of the largest churches in the US. Pasto Osteen, who leads the prayer group, is estimated to be worth $50 million and is often criticized for his preaching that teaches wealth is a sign of God's favor.