A plumbing repair at televangelist Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston reportedly led to the discovery of "bags and bags" of cash and checks in a bathroom wall.
The discovery came several years after someone stole $600,000 in cash and checks from a safe at Osteen's Lakewood Church, according to a report from KRPC Channel 2. The station suggested that whoever stole the money in 2014 may have been hidden it in the bathroom wall.
A plumber named Justin, who works for a large contractor, told the station he got a call about a loose toilet at the church on Nov. 10.
"Justin said he started working on the toilet and had to remove the tile and insulation," the station reports. "Once he removed the insulation, he discovered about 3,000 envelopes full of checks. Some had cash in it. Justin said he called the church’s maintenance supervisor and had to stay at the church for almost seven hours."
Houston police investigators later questioned Justin and removed the rest of the wall, discovering "bags and bags" of money and checks.
"Justin said the church or HPD never thanked him or reached out to him about $25,000 reward money," the station reported, referring to the reward that was offered following the 2014 theft. "Justin said he even called Crime Stoppers about reward money, but never heard back. He even tried reaching out to Joel Osteen but hasn’t heard back."
A representative from the church confirmed the discovery in a statement.
“Recently, while repair work was being done at Lakewood Church, an undisclosed amount of cash and checks were found," the church representative said. "Lakewood immediately notified the Houston Police Department and is assisting them with their investigation. Lakewood has no further comment at this time."
In 2014, Houston police said $200,000 in cash and $400,000 worth of checks were stolen from a safe at the church. At the time, the church said the stolen money represented funds that were contributed during one weekend of services.
Watch KPRC's report below.
Money, checks found in wall of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, years after $600K burglary www.youtube.com
Mark Meadows taken aback after right-wing podcast host accuses him of allying with 'Chinese communists'
Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows got more than he expected on Thursday when he appeared on the podcast of far-right talk radio personality Stew Peters.
As reported by The Daily Beast, the former Trump chief of staff thought he would be doing a friendly interview with a sympathetic conservative host, but was taken aback when Peters began peppering him with questions about his purported ties to the Chinese government.
During the interview, Peters cited a report on a right-wing website that claimed Meadows had "very close connections with Chinese communists through the ridiculously named Humpty Dumpty Institute as well as the CCP-tied Taihe Institute."
Peters then bluntly asked Meadows, "What were you doing with these Chinese communists, exactly?"
Meadows replied that he had been affiliated with these institutions without apparently knowing about their ties to China.
"Yeah, so the Humpty Dumpty Institute, I joined that actually in trying to work, not knowing any connections with China back when I was a freshman member of Congress," he said. "It was only as a freshman member of Congress, and then they didn’t have any affiliation. In fact, they continued to use my name after they were looking at a number of things—so I had to send them a letter to distance myself from them."
Peters, however, wouldn't let Meadows off the hook.
"Well, it’s obvious that China is attacking us,” he said. “I mean, given the China virus, Americans are rightly concerned, if it seems that the infiltration had risen, all the way to your level, the chief-of-staff of the president of the United States.”
The full interview follows below.
Jussie Smollett trial goes off the rails after attorney accuses judge of 'lunging' and 'snarling' at her: report
On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that the hate crime hoax trial of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett took a bizarre turn after his defense counsel accused the presiding judge of "lunging" and "snarling" at her.
"The confrontation kicked off as defense attorney Tamara Walker attempted to question star prosecution witness Olabinjo Osundairo, who testified earlier on Thursday that Smollett had paid him to 'fake beat him up,'" reported A. J. MacDougall. "As Walker pressed Osundairo on homophobic language in his past tweets, Judge James Linn tried to expedite the line of inquiry, calling the subject 'collateral.' Walker then asked for a sidebar. After the jury had been sent out of the room, Walker requested a mistrial, in part over the word of the word 'collateral' since, she said, demonstrating Ola's homophobia is central to their defense. She then remarked to the judge: 'You did physically lunge at me.'"
She also accused Judge Linn of making "snarling faces."
According to the report, Judge Linn denied all of these accusations and said, "There’s no mistrial here… Frankly, I’m stunned."
Smollett is on trial for over a dozen felony charges stemming from an incident that occurred in 2019. Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, claimed to have been the victim of a hate crime at the hands of two Trump supporters, who beat him, put a noose around his neck, and doused him in a chemical substance.
Inconsistencies in his story immediately emerged, and the Chicago Police assert the entire incident was orchestrated by Smollett, who hired his supposed attackers.