Plumber who found stashed money at Joel Osteen's Lakewood church awarded $20,000

·2 min read

The plumber who discovered hundred of envelopes containing checks in cash hidden in a wall at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston will receive $20,000 for his discovery, a local organization said.

The man, identified by NBC Houston KPRC as Justin Cauley, first talked about the discovery after calling into a Houston morning radio show on Thursday. He said on Nov. 10, he was doing maintenance in one of the church's bathrooms, and when he went to remove a toilet "about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall."

It turned out that the money in the envelopes was stolen from the church back in March 2014, according to Crime Stoppers of Houston. The organization said approximately $600,000 was stolen at the time.

When the stolen money was reported over seven years ago, Crime Stoppers of Houston offered a cash reward of $5,000, and Lakewood Church added an additional $20,000 to the reward. Two years later, the church decided to just donate the $20,000 to the organization.

After Cauley discovered the money, KPRC reported Crime Stoppers of Houston said the plumber would not receive the award because of the statute of limitations and other factors. The organization has since changed course, deciding to award Cauley $20,000.

"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 (amount) of money to this Good Samaritan and wishing he and his family a wonderful holiday season.” Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious said in a statement.

The organization said Mankarious asked the organization's leadership and law enforcement if the award could be given.

"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," Mankarious said.

Cauley told the outlet the award is going to "help tremendously" as "bills are stacking up."

"I’m trying to make the best of it, and today the light shined through," he said.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Plumber awarded $20,000 for finding money at Joel Osteen's church

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting