Lottery winner sentenced, loophole closed

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Plea agreements between the state of Michigan and lottery-winning welfare recipient Amanda Clayton concluded Tuesday with probation for the Lincoln Park woman, and a lesson learned in Lansing.

“We believe justice has been done in this case,” Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan said after Clayton, 25, pleaded no contest last month to two counts of felony welfare fraud. “Now, for the first time, we are able to cross-reference with the Michigan Lottery to assure this does not happen in the future.”

Clayton gained local and viral infamy in April after it was discovered that she continued collecting food and medical assistance from the state in the months after she struck it rich. In September 2011 Clayton appeared on the Michigan Lottery “Make Me Rich” TV show and hit the jackpot for a $1 million prize. Clayton accepted a one-time payout of $735,000 — earnings she did not report to Human Services officials.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged the woman with collecting more than $200 monthly in Bridge card food assistance and medical aid.

The lottery winnings should have been reported as a change in income, officials said. In the wake of the charges against Clayton, the state legislature amended laws requiring lottery winners to report earnings of more than $1,000, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law that requires more communication between social services and lottery officials.

Clayton was sentenced Monday by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Margie Braxton to six months of probation, ordered to pay more than $5,000 in restitution, and to pay court costs and fines.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)