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Plumber awarded $20,000 after finding envelopes of cash, checks at Joel Osteen’s church

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A plumber who discovered hundreds of envelopes of checks and cash while working on a bathroom at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen‘s church was awarded $20,000 this week for returning the money.

Crime Stoppers of Houston, which worked with Osteen’s Lakewood Church in 2014 to solve a crime in which the church reported $600,000 in cash and checks stolen from a safe, chose to reward Justin Cauley for acting as a “Good Samaritan.”

Cauley found the money lodged behind a toilet while he was working on the bathroom at the church. 

Evidence recovered at the scene revealed that the money was connected to the 2014 theft, according to KPRC, an NBC News Houston affiliate

“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,” Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“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,” Mankarious added.

According to Crime Stoppers of Houston, an investigation into the theft is ongoing and being carried out by the Houston Police Department.

Cauley said in an interview with the local outlet that he was grateful for the reward and that it would help him and his young family.

“Bills are stacking up,” he said. “I’m trying to make the best of it. And today, that light shined through.”

“This money is going to help tremendously,” he added.

Cauley also expressed his gratitude to Osteen for making the initial donation to Crime Stoppers of Houston.

“It’s been a blessing because had [Osteen] not donated the money, I probably wouldn’t be here. And I want to thank you for that,” he told the news outlet.

Lakewood Church said that it was appreciative of Cauley in a statement to KPRC, adding that it hopes he “pays the gift forward.” 

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