Assault charges filed in incident at lottery winner’s house

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — The controversial Michigan Lottery jackpot winner made headlines again after police responded to a neighbor dispute; allegations remained under investigation as to Amanda Clayton’s involvement.

Police responded to reports of a fight between neighbors in the 1800 block of Anne Avenue on Aug. 18. According to police reports, Clayton’s sister mowed her lawn that afternoon and clippings landed on the driveway of neighbor Victor Bartolo.

Soon after, Bartolo reportedly used a leaf blower to send the clipped grass back onto Clayton’s property. A verbal argument followed between Bartolo, Clayton and her sister.

About 6:30 p.m., friends of Clayton’s reportedly confronted Bartolo, who said he was threatened with a knife and hit with a baseball bat. Bartolo was taken by police for hospital treatment to unspecified injuries.

Robert Jesse Hill, 24, and Saliah Saif Algahmi, 26, were arraigned in 25th District Court on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony punishable by four years in prison. Samantha Rene Benefield, 18, and Ashley Nicole Combs, 19, were also charged with assault after trying to intercede on Bartolo’s behalf.

Police said there was no history of neighbor disputes, and there was no evidence to substantiate Bartola’s claim that Clayton paid the defendants to attack him.

Clayton gained notoriety after winning a September 2011 Michigan Lottery television jackpot of $1 million. Clayton accepted a payout of $735,000; after receiving her winnings Clayton continued to collect state assistance and welfare payments. In July Clayton pleaded no contest to fraud charges, was placed on probation and paid restitution to the state.

The story made international and viral headlines; state lawmakers responded by adjusting loopholes in Human Services reporting requirements.

Clayton reportedly suffered minor injuries during the incident.

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