The plumber who came across piles of cash stashed in envelopes in a wall at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas was rewarded for turning over the money to the church officials. Crime Stoppers of Houston awarded Justin the plumber with $20,000 for finding the money, which was linked to a $600,000 theft case at the church back in 2014.
Crime Stoppers of Houston released a statement on Tuesday announcing that they have rewarded Justin $20,000 for discovering the hidden money at the Lakewood Church and returning it to church officials.
"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," Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious remarked.
"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 of Houston deputy director Nichole Christoph told the Christian Post on Tuesday that Justin the plumber "seems like a really good guy." Last week, Justin spoke to KWTX, arguing that he should have been compensated by Lakewood Church for his massive discovery. He lamented, "I didn't solve their case, but I solved very key important clues as to what could or may have happened there. I feel like I should get something. I feel like some type of reward should get offered to me."
At the time, Christoph said that the statute of limitations on this felony theft case had expired, which is why they could not provide any compensation for what he did. The organization appeared to have a change of heart, however, after speaking with Justin the plumber this week.
Christoph shared how Justin "knew it was the right thing to do, and that's what he did" and that the plumber has "a young son, and they've been on some hard times, and they were expecting Christmas would be difficult." Now that he has been compensated for his good deeds, Justin is reportedly "very excited about having extra money to finish projects around his house and makes sure that his baby gets a good Christmas and then also helping others."
Christoph described the plumber as "a very humble person." Justin admitted that he is a Christian who is not tied to any congregation but tries to uphold the values of his faith. The 28 year old lives with his fiancé and toddler in a recently-purchased mobile home. He admitted that he had been struggling lately and that the $20,000 gift is an answered prayer.
Justin, who said he's not a "greedy person," recounted how he once stopped at the side of the road while driving to work early one morning after seeing some shooting stars. He pulled over to "give a little prayer" and following his $20,000 gift, he knew his prayer had been answered.
Meanwhile, Lakewood Church senior executive Don Iloff said that Justin had been thanked by church officials several times since the discovery of the hidden money. Iloff, who is Osteen's brother-in-law, said that Justin has "been invited to the church and [to] attend the service if he'd like, and I know Joel would be happy to meet with him, say hello to him and thank him."
Iloff added that there are several theories as to how the money had gotten into the walls of the Lakewood Church. He explained that the bathroom was a single-use public bathroom in which one can push the ceiling out. Someone must have placed the bags onto the ceiling and kept pushing until the money fell into the wall. He remarked that the discovery by the plumber was "inexplicable in a way."
Iloff said, "Every one of us was shocked when we found out seven years later."