Controversial lottery winner found dead

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — Infamous lottery winner Amanda Clayton died Sept. 29 from what police believe was an overdose of prescription medication.

Clayton, 25, was found dead at a friend’s house in Ecorse. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office was still awaiting final results of an autopsy and toxicology test; it was believed she was using prescription medication.

Clayton leaves two children. Her toddler daughter was in bed with Clayton and her crying alerted the friend with whom they were staying.

Clayton was subject to international attention soon after winning $1 million in September 2011 on the Michigan Lottery “Make Me Rich” TV show. Clayton accepted a $735,000 cash payment of her winnings.

Earlier this year it was discovered that Clayton continued to collect state assistance, medical aid and food stamps. In July Clayton pleaded no contest to fraud charges, paid restitution and was serving probation. The story was featured in news stories and online; Michigan lawmakers addressed a loophole in reporting requirements for lottery winners that receive state aid.

Clayton again made headlines in August when police responded to calls of a neighbor dispute in the 1800 block of Anne Street, a disagreement between neighbors that resulted in felonious assault charges over grass clippings. An argument between friends of Clayton’s and her neighbor, Victor Bartolo, escalated to knife threats and baseball bat assaults.

Bartolo was reportedly taken to the hospital for unspecified injuries and claimed that Clayton paid her friends to attack him.

A preliminary examination was held Tuesday for four defendants originally charged with felonious assault, Robert Jesse Hill, Saliah Saif Algahmi, Samantha Rene Benefield and Nicole Ashley Combs. Hill and Algahmi pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault and battery and were placed on 12 months’ probation. Charges against Benefield and Combs were dismissed without prejudice.

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