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Michigan lottery winner charged with welfare fraud

By Dawson Bell, Detroit Free Press –

LANSING, Mich. — A 25-year-old woman who continued to collect food stamps after winning the Michigan state lottery’s $1 million “Make Me Rich!” game show has been charged with two felonies for welfare fraud, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Tuesday.

Amanda Clayton, whose use of a food stamp bridge card was uncovered earlier this year by WDIV-TV, was to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of failing to inform welfare officials of her winnings or the fact that she was employed for five months in 2011, Schuette said in a joint announcement with Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan. They said Clayton illegally collected about $5,475 in food and medical assistance from August 2011 through March 2012.

Each of the charges — welfare fraud and failure to inform — is punishable by up to four years in prison.

“It’s simply common sense that million dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance,” Schuette said in a statement.

Clayton, of Lincoln Park, Mich., won the televised game on Sept 12, 2011 and reportedly took home more than $500,000. She told WDIV she thought she was justified in continuing to collect the state payments after her windfall because she was currently unemployed.

“I feel that it’s okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,’’ she said. “I have two houses.’”

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