Michigan Lottery Winner Charged with Welfare Fraud

Michigan lottery winner charged with welfare fraudLINCOLN PARK, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan lottery winner was charged with fraud Tuesday for collecting food stamps and public health insurance despite pocketing a $735,000 jackpot.

Amanda Clayton, 25, was silent during a brief court hearing after spending a night in jail. A not-guilty plea was entered, and her lawyer vowed to fight the charges.

Lottery winners collecting welfare benefits have embarrassed Michigan officials. Clayton is the second person in the state caught with food stamps despite newly minted wealth, and Gov. Rick Snyder last week signed a law requiring the lottery to notify the Human Services Department when someone wins at least $1,000.

Clayton is charged with failing to inform the state that her income had changed as a result of the lottery prize and a job. She won a $1 million jackpot on a game show, "Make Me Rich!" and chose a $735,000 lump sum, before taxes, last September.

"It's simply common sense that million-dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance," said Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office filed the charges. The maximum penalty is four years in prison.

Clayton, the mother of a 1-year-old, is accused of collecting approximately $5,475 in food stamps and public medical benefits over eight months until Detroit TV station WDIV broke the story in March. She told WDIV that she believed she could collect food aid because she didn't have a job at the time.

Outside the court in suburban Detroit, defense attorney Stanley Wise said he would ask that charges be dropped at the next hearing, on April 24, when a judge is expected to decide whether there's enough evidence to send the case to trial. He didn't elaborate on his strategy.

After a night in jail, Clayton was "upset but she'll be fine," Wise said.

Euline Clayton told reporters that her daughter used bad judgment but that a criminal case is "crap." She said Amanda called the Human Services Department about her winnings but could never reach anyone.

The charges "are very extreme. ... They arrested her like a vulture," the elder Clayton said. "She didn't steal $1 million."

Asked why her daughter didn't write a check weeks ago to fix things, she replied: "It's not that easy. Come on."

Clayton wasn't the first Michigan lottery winner to keep claiming public benefits. Leroy Fick, 60, of Bay County was using the food program despite winning an $850,000 lump sum prize in 2010. He told officials about his wealth but was allowed to temporarily keep his card because one-time windfalls at that time were not counted as regular income under the program.

The state has since banned anyone with assets of more than $5,000, excluding a car, from the food stamp program. That knocked Fick off the rolls.

Michigan Human Service Director Maura Corrigan said the new law requiring communications between the lottery and her agency "will make it easier to ensure that outrages involving instant millionaires on public assistance don't happen in the future."

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cynthia

i HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED ABOUT WELFARE RECEPIENTS BUYING HANDFULS OF LOTTERY TICKETS, WHEN THE MONEY SHOULD BE GOING FOR FOOD ....i GUESS THAT IS ONE WAY THE STATE IS GETTING SOME OF THAT MONEY BACK.

April 18 2012 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
OOOGOTS

Let's not forget....she bought the ticket with welfare money....OUR TAXPAYER MONEY!!!
Therefore, all us taxpayers should get a share....yea????

April 18 2012 at 4:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Beverly

When you collect Food Stamps, Medicaid or any other Federal Assistance that is given out by your State, they specifically tell you that ANY CHANGE in income must be reported immediately in writing! So for this woman to say she tried reaching someone by phone is a huge evasion techinque on her part. She is probably trying to play "dumb like a fox".

I have nothjing against people who truly need the assistance on getting it, but the abuses have to stop and I am glad that this one has been give the attention it deserves. Now if we can only get the rest of the abusers in all 50 States............maybe our economy would not be so bad off as it is.

April 18 2012 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

There's a whole lot of welfare fraud that goes on. That is one of the reasons that the programs are going broke. Instead of the government doing their job and monitoring and enforcing the rules to stop the fraud and waste, they take the easy way out by continually pick pocketing the working people to fund these programs.

April 18 2012 at 3:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
gardinerda

So, she called to let them know she had won but "could not reach anyone'? Just STOP using the food stamps, stop using any assistance, send them a CHECK! In spite of what the mom says, THAT is easy. "I won the lottery, and here is a check for the benefits I received" What is so hard about THAT? In some states you have to "pay back" for the past year or six months if you get a windfall. Why not her? BAN her from all future welfare and food stamsp!

April 18 2012 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tcctch22

if no job at the time of her winnings she should be in no trouble at all sounds like a state i would never want to live in,,,,,,,,,,its a windfall of cash a one time thing,,,,,,,,DO YOU HAVE TO REPORT YOUR LOSES WHEN YOU GAMBLE ????????

April 18 2012 at 3:06 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
jimsr375

HELLLLOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY ARESSED HER LIKE A VULTURE BECAUSE SHE IS A VULTURE

April 18 2012 at 2:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Marian

YES! They did the right thing to arrest her .She had no business collecting welfare, foodstamps and such after winning that much money. I have seen able-body people clad in fancy clothes and jewels come though my line (Im a cashier in a grocery store) using food stamp cards and WIC... I work hard for the money I use to buy things...People on foodstamps do not pay for the food they buy..It is my hard-earned taxes paying for those steaks and seafood, and junk food... The case is not crap.. The woman knew what she was doing even though it was wrong...she thought she could still live off the hard-earn taxes of other people in spite of her new wealth...I feel sorry for the 1 year old... her mother is not setting a good example for her....

April 18 2012 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tadyer2336

sounds like WISCONSIN to me !

April 18 2012 at 2:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Danny

Just have her pay the money back and let it go!

April 18 2012 at 2:44 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply