'It's unacceptable': Lakewood members react to hidden money found in church bathroom

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Monday, December 6, 2021
Lakewood members react to hidden money found in church bathroom
Recovered evidence suggests the money could be connected to a 2014 theft. ABC13 spoke to churchgoers Sunday, who called the situation confusing.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Churchgoers say it's unacceptable after a stash of cash and checks were found inside a wall at Lakewood Church.

Evidence recovered by Houston police suggests the money could be connected to a 2014 theft.

The money was discovered on Nov. 10 during a renovation project, according to HPD.

Although police did not say how much money was found, they described the discovery as a large amount of money, including cash, checks and money orders found inside a wall.

The discovery comes more than seven years after $600,000 was taken from a church safe. The incident happened in 2014 between March 9 and March 10.

SEE ALSO: More than half million dollars stolen from safe at Joel Osteen's Houston church

ABC13 spoke to Lakewood churchgoers Sunday, who called the situation confusing.

"It's unacceptable because it destroys all of the help the church raised for the community," Benito Rodriguez said.

The church is not commenting further, but previously said they are cooperating with the theft investigation.

Houston police say the cash, checks, and money orders were inventoried and then left at Lakewood. The man who made this all public is known only as Justin, a plumber.

"This was not a topic where we were expecting a shocking phone call that made national news," said Erik Scott Smith.

Smith is a co-host of the Morning Bullpen with George, Mo and Erik on 100.3 The Bull.

A man who called himself Justin the plumber said, "I went to go remove the toilet, and I moved some insulation away, and about 500 envelopes fell out of the wall," when he was asked about the incident on the radio show.

The hosts wanted to know what was the most valuable thing people ever found.

Back in 2014, the church released a statement in part saying, "The funds were fully insured, and we are working with our insurance company to restore the stolen funds to the church."

READ MORE: Money found in Lakewood Church wall may be tied to 2014 theft case, police say

"As he was talking, I was cross referencing all those details. It seemed eerily familiar. Everything he was saying. It seemed like there would be no reason to make this up," said Smith.

He thinks the person claiming to be a plumber may have called his show after working at Lakewood out of frustration.

"I think he's sitting there in his house just waiting for somebody from the church, police department, or somewhere to say, 'Thank you,'" said Smith.

The radio show caller isn't talking anymore at this point.

"I hope it's not somebody currently working in a church environment that's hiding $600,000 from the people who donated it," said Smith.