April 17, 2012
LANSING - Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan today announced that the Attorney General's Criminal Division has charged a million-dollar lottery winner with two felony counts of welfare fraud after investigation revealed she failed to report her lottery winnings, as well as her employment, as required by State law governing public assistance programs. The charges resulted from an investigation by the Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Inspector General.
"It's simply common sense that million dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance," said Schuette. "We will continue to work with local, state and federal authorities to uphold state laws intended to ensure wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars."
"The hard work done by our Office of Inspector General has helped make the difference in this case," said Corrigan. "That commitment to investigation and uncovering the truth, combined with the new law recently enacted by the legislature and signed by the Governor, will make it easier to ensure that outrages involving instant millionaires on public assistance don't happen in the future."
Amanda Clayton, 25, of Lincoln Park, received public assistance from August 2010 through March 2012. Investigation by the Department of Human Services, Office of Inspector General revealed that Clayton was employed from June 2011 through October 2011. It is alleged that income from Clayton's employment during that time period was never reported to DHS officials, as required by State law. Additionally, on September 12, 2011, Clayton won $1,000,000 in the "Make Me Rich!" game show sponsored by the Michigan Lottery. It is alleged Clayton also failed to report the lottery winnings as income. As a result, from August 2011 through March 2012, Clayton allegedly collected approximately $5,475 in food and medical assistance benefits for which she would otherwise have been ineligible.
Clayton has been charged by Schuette with two counts of Welfare Fraud – Failure to Inform, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. The charges were filed today in Lincoln Park's 25th District Court.
Clayton was arrested Monday, April 16, 2012 by Special Agents from the Department of Attorney General and is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.
On April 11, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed new legislation requiring the Michigan Lottery to notify the Department of Human Services about any lottery winners awarded $1,000 or more within seven days. The legislation also provided for specific asset tests to help determine eligibility for some public assistance programs. Clayton was not charged under the new laws, because her alleged crimes took place in 2011.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.