Image copyright AP Image caption Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church used to ‘rot their seats’ so no one would notice the money, according to the construction inspector
The Texas church where Joel Osteen gave millions of dollars in free gifts is still riddled with funds raised during an armed robbery nearly five years ago, a water service inspector has claimed.
The Lakewood Church in Houston used to “rot their seats” so no one would notice the missing money, according to contractor Andy Klusmire.
Lakewood responded to the claim with a statement from its insurance company: “The church has responded to Mr Klusmire’s claim. We believe the claims dispute has been resolved.”
It is understood that Mr Klusmire’s claim was no longer unresolved.
‘Very strange place’
Mr Klusmire, now a contractor for a company based in the same area, says he repaired the water heater of the church after it had been burgled in October 2014.
“I remember thinking it was very strange a place to put in a $600,000 heater,” he told KTRK, a local news channel.
Mr Klusmire says that during the repair work he realised the water tank had been replaced with a concrete slab.
“The robber may have thought the tank was broken or broken when they were trying to get in,” Mr Klusmire said.
“There were a lot of people sleeping on that tank and they could easily have drilled a hole and got inside. The thing was even secure.”
Image copyright KTRK Image caption the money allegedly being used to boost Lakewood Church’s attendance
Mr Klusmire claimed that the burglar must have been someone with access to the area because he took money inside the water tank from a drive-thru ATM machine.
“Whoever broke into that tank during a robbery of the ATM had gotten a lot of access there.”
Image copyright KTRK Image caption Joel Osteen’s church receives millions of dollars every year in gifts
Mr Klusmire has alleged that the church used to “rot their seats” so no one would notice the missing cash.
The church revealed on social media last week that they had given a record-breaking $20m (£15.7m) to Christians in crisis across the world at a special concert featuring Justin Bieber, Cher and Kelly Clarkson.