Plumber getting $20K reward after finding 500 cash-filled envelopes in Lakewood Church walls

Megachurch is not giving reward to plumber but hopes he ‘pays the gift forward’

Plumber speaks after getting reward

HOUSTON – The plumber who discovered hundreds of cash and check-filled envelopes inside the walls of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is finally getting the reward he hoped for after turning in the stash, but the reward isn’t coming from the megachurch.

The plumber, who wishes to remain anonymous, has spoken out in recent weeks saying he should be rewarded for the November discovery after turning the money in.

“I feel like I should get something. I feel like some type of reward should get offered to me,” the plumber told KSAT’s sister station KPRC.

The envelopes that the plumber found in the church walls are believed to be connected to a March 2014 theft when church officials reported that $600,000 in donations was stolen - a crime that was never solved, according to KHOU.

After the crime, a $25,000 reward was offered to anyone who was able to help solve the case. KPRC reported that Crime Stoppers offered $5,000 for information and that Lakewood Church officials supplemented the reward with an additional $20,000 after the initial theft in 2014.

The statute of limitations for that reward has passed, but Crimes Stoppers is still rewarding the plumber with a one-time gift of $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 told KPRC.

Lakewood Church officials have not publicly addressed the discovery of the envelopes but a spokesperson with the church told KPRC “we are appreciative of the plumber and we hope he pays the gift forward.”

While he’s happy with the reward, the plumber was hoping for a thank you from the megachurch’s pastor.

“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,’” the plumber told KPRC.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.