DETROIT — Amanda Clayton of Lincoln Park, Mich., was sentenced to probation Tuesday for welfare fraud after she took $5,475 in food assistance payments after winning a $1 million Michigan jackpot last September.
The 25-year-old mother was ordered to serve nine months of probation, plus pay court costs and fines. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Margie Braxton also told her to get a job and reimburse the state for the money took.
Her lawyer, John Dakmak, said she repaid the money Tuesday morning. Dakmak said Clayton is looking for a job but likely will have trouble because of her felony conviction.
“It’s Michigan in 2012. It’s difficult to find a job. A felony conviction is a very serious matter,” he said, declining to let Clayton speak after the sentencing hearing.
Clayton first came to the attention of authorities when a local news outlet revealed she was still taking Bridge Card payments even after winning several hundred thousand dollars, after taxes, in September from a Michigan lottery game.
At the time, she said she felt entitled to the payments because she needed the help. But the Michigan Department of Human Services requires that income changes be reported within 10 days.
Clayton, who was on food assistance from 2010 to 2012, apparently never did so, said Attorney General Bill Schuette, even after she got a job for four months in 2011.
Dakmak said once the discrepancy was pointed out, Clayton had every intention of paying the state back. He said she was charged with felony welfare fraud by the state Attorney General’s Office in April before she could.
Days before her arrest, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation requiring lottery officials to report winnings to DHS.
©2012 Detroit Free Press
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