Amanda Clayton, a Detroit woman who made headlines after admitting that she still collected food stamps despite a million-dollar lottery win, has now been removed from the food assistance program. Officials from the Michigan Department of Human Services confirmed that Clayton officially will not receive $200 a month in benefits, MSNBC reported.
The authorities found out that Clayton, 24, had still been using her welfare card to collect unemployment benefits each month, after winning $1 million dollars in the lottery last fall, through a report this week by WDIV-TV, a Detroit news station. Euline Clayton, Amanda's mother, had told the press that her daughter's wins had been decimated by tax payments, leaving her with only $500,000 to pocket.
I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, Euline Clayton told The Detroit News about her daughter's behavior. But it's nobody's business, if she's not breaking the law.
Clayton is the second reported case of a lottery winner keeping unemployment benefits in Michigan. In June of 2010, Leroy Fick won $2 million, took $850,000 after taxes, purchased a new home a used Audi convertible, then continued to use food stamps for groceries, reported ABC. At the time, state legislation requiring authorities to check the names of lottery winners and assess if their newfound wealth affected their eligibility for food assistance programs had not yet been introduced. Only actual income was considered, and so anyone unemployed could collect food assistance.
He's not trying to cheat the state, said Fick's attorney, John Wilson said to ABC last year. Based on his income, he's eligible.
Now, Clayton's case has once again pushed the issue into the spotlight, and frustrated some government officials. Contrary to Clayton and Fick's previous beliefs, Maura Corrigan, Department of Human Services' director, released a statement on Wednesday claiming that those who stay on food stamps after winning the lottery could face legal consequences for their actions.
Under DHS policy, a recipient of food assistance benefits must notify the state within 10 days of any asset or income change, she said. DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.
After Fick's admission to using food stamps after his mega-win, Republican representative Dale Zorn worked towards creating a bill that would prevent lottery winners and other gamblers that acquired a large about of money from continuing to receive public aid. Zorn's bills were passed in the state's House two weeks ago and now await approval from the Senate. According to ABC, the bills that were passed require the Michigan Lottery to report winners that receive over $1000 to the Department of Human Services.