Amanda Clayton, Michigan lottery winner, charged with welfare fraud
Amanda Clayton, 25, was charged with fraud and pleaded not guilty in a brief court hearing on Tuesday.
Her lawyer, defense attorney Stanley Wise, said he would ask that charges be dropped at the next hearing on April 24, when a judge is expected to decide whether or not to send the case to trial.
Clayton is charged with failing to inform the state that her income had changed as a result of her lottery winnings and a job. She won a $1 million jackpot on the Michigan game show, "Make Me Rich!," and chose a $735,000 lump sum last September.
The mother of a one-year-old is accused collecting approximately $5,475 in food stamps and public medical benefits over eight months until Detroit station WDIV broke the story in March. She told the station she thought she was allowed to collect food aid because she didn't have a job at the time.
Clayton is the second person in Michigan caught with food stamps despite newly acquired wealth. Gov. Rich Snyder signed a law last week requiring the lottery to notify the Human Services Department when someone wins at least $1,000.
"It's simply common sense that million-dollar lottery winners forfeit their right to public assistance," said Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office filed the charges. The maximum penalty is four years in prison.
Meanwhile, Amanda Clayton's mother, Euline Clayton, told reporters that her daughter didn't use her best judgement but that this criminal case is "crap." She said Amanda called the Human Services Department about her winnings but could never reach anyone.
The charges "are very extreme. ... They arrested her like a vulture," the elder Clayton said. "She didn't steal $1 million."
When asked why her daughter didn't write a check weeks ago to fix things, she replied: "It's not that easy. Come on."
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