A Michigan woman who took state benefits after a lottery win faces criminal charges
Amanda Clayton, 25, faces felony counts of welfare fraud
New legislation signed last week blocks lottery winners from receiving state assistance
"I thought, maybe it was OK because I'm not working," Clayton said
A Michigan woman who won a million-dollar lottery but continued to receive welfare benefits is now charged with fraud, the attorney general said Tuesday.
Amanda Clayton, 25, collected thousands of dollars in state assistance for months after she won $1 million in the ‘Make Me Rich” game sponsored by the Michigan lottery, a statement from state officials said.
“It’s simply common sense that million-dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Clayton, a Lincoln Park resident, faces two felony counts of welfare fraud after being investigated by the Department of Human Services and the Office of Inspector General.
The inquiry revealed that not only did Clayton fail to report her lottery winnings and other employment earnings, as state law requires, she also “allegedly collected approximately $5,475 in food and medical benefits” she would have been ineligible for.
According to Michigan law, welfare recipients must report any changes in assets or income to the agency within 10 days.
“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought, maybe it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, 24, told CNN affiliate WDIV when it asked whether it was appropriate for her to receive the money.
Clayton bought a new house and car after winning the lottery in October 2011. According to state officials, she received public assistance from August 2010 through March 2012.
After taking a lump sum and paying taxes, Clayton said she ended up with just more than $500,000.
Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, “I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.”
New legislation – which includes Senate Bill 711 and 712, and House Bill 5033 – will block lottery winners from receiving government benefits.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed all the bills last Wednesday.
“That commitment to investigation and uncovering the truth, combined with the new law recently enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor, will make it easier to ensure that outrages involving instant millionaires on public assistance don’t happen in the future,” said Maura Corrigan, director of the state’s Department of Human Services.