Michigan woman charged with collecting welfare after $1 million lottery win found dead
Amanda Clayton, 25, died of a possible drug overdose at an Ecorse, Michigan, home, police say.
October 1st, 2012
01:54 PM ET

Michigan woman charged with collecting welfare after $1 million lottery win found dead

A woman who continued receiving public assistance after winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Michigan lottery game was found dead in a Detroit suburb this weekend.

Amanda Clayton, 25, was sleeping with her 18-month-old daughter at a home in Ecorse when, according to police, she died of a possible drug overdose.

The baby "was right next to her sleeping.  They were watching a movie together. She started crying, and that’s when Rachel walked in and she tried to see what was going on and she flipped (Clayton) and she was gone,” a friend's boyfriend told CNN affiliate WXYZ-TV, asking that he not be identified.

The WXYZ story did not further identify Rachel, but the station reported that a friend and her boyfriend had been babysitting Clayton's daughter and son.

An autopsy has been completed, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, and no definite cause of death can be determined until a toxicology report comes back in six to eight weeks, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Clayton won $1 million in the "Make Me Rich" lottery game show in October. She took a lump sum, and after taxes, had a little more than $500,000 with which she bought a house and car. She also continued to collect $200 a month in state food assistance until the state learned of the lottery win and pulled her benefits in March.

Asked by CNN affiliate WDIV-TV if she felt she was entitled to the money, she replied, "I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought maybe it was OK because I'm not working."

After the state Department of Human Services and Office of Inspector General looked into the matter, the Lincoln Park woman was charged with two felony counts of welfare fraud.

Michigan law requires that public aid recipients report any changes to their assets within 10 days, but the state inquiry revealed that Clayton collected $5,475 in food and medical benefits for which she should have been ineligible.

Clayton pleaded no contest to the charges and was placed on probation in July, The Detroit News reported, adding that her attorney said she had paid back the inappropriate benefits. The case prompted state legislation barring lottery winners from receiving government benefits.

The friend's boyfriend who spoke to WXYZ said Clayton had been in "a bad stage" lately and had been tormented in the aftermath of her lottery win.

"So many people tried to take advantage of her, act like they are her friends just to get some money from her. It gets to the point where you start questioning yourself: Are they really my friends or are they using me?” he said.

A neighbor who had known Clayton for at least 17 years described her to The Detroit News as "a nice, pleasant girl who never got in trouble, until she won the lottery."

Sheryl Schonfeld also told the newspaper that Clayton had been going through a custody battle over her son, had recently moved to escape her boyfriend's pestering and that Clayton's mother recently said Amanda had been taking prescription drugs.

In August, the paper reported, two men and two women were arraigned after Clayton and a neighbor were involved in a dispute over yard clippings. Clayton had cut her grass and left the clippings in the driveway of neighbor Victor Bartola, who swept them back into her yard, The Detroit News said.

The two argued, and a friend of Clayton's left and returned with three other people, according to the paper. A fight broke out involving a knife, bat and airsoft gun, and Bartola was hospitalized and released, the paper reported.

Clayton's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Allen Park.

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Filed under: Crime • Michigan • U.S.
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Erik

    So your argument that the state "stole her money" is based upon your idea that the law as written shouldn't be written that way? In that case, I hereby proclaim that I disagree with the law against battery, more specifically smacking you upside the head. The state didn't steal half her money. Maybe you meant to say that it's your opinion that capital gains taxes are too steep. I might agree with you there. Having said that, she could have done so much with half a million dollars (after taxes).

    I agree with many of your points, and might have slight revisions but mostly I agree that this is a tragedy. In her case, money wasn't the root of all evil. It was drugs. Her windfall just helped to accelerate the process that she started a long time ago.

    October 2, 2012 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnB

      Erik it was not capital gains taxes on lottery winnings it is a gaming tax. It is reported on a 1099G and is around 40%. Plus some states tax gamming winnings at a rate of 1 to 2%.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • GM1953

      she would have only received the full million if she had chosen the 20 year annuity, but instead she chose the cash payout

      October 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. comeatmebro

    if she had Mitt's tax advantages she could have kept all her winnings is a swiss or cayman account

    October 2, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
    • JohnB

      Why jump on Mitts taxes when the Dolly Loma’s rate was mush lower.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sly Sadie

    AWESOME!!! Karma's a beeyotch, ain't it? What a happy ending! LOL!!!

    October 2, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • sams dog

      Nice ...... Very compassionate. LOL ??????? Very funny

      October 2, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Raefert "J diddy" Johnson

    I AM A CONVICTED FELON.
    I got caught robbing another liquor store.
    The judge gave me two choices: Prison, or Army front lines.
    I chose the latter. Did I serve, or was I extorted into serving as if a mere draftee.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Raefert, your post is garbage. The military service does NOT want felons. They are unreliable and even dangerous to fellow soldiers. Also, they tend to be rather dumb...as a post. Many cannot read and understand how to work with modern weapon's systems. Felons have poor self control and require special handling from drill sargeants.

      It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to train recruits. That money is better spent on men (and women) who are reliable.

      sanjosemike

      October 2, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      You're mother must be so proud.

      October 2, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • trees141

      Very dramatic story but totally specious. In 29 years of service I NEVER ran across ANYONE who was given such a choice. A judge has no legal authority to offer military service to a convicted felon as an alternative punishment, nor would any branch of the Armed Forces accept such a felon. There are some fine fiction web sites out there that would be a more appropriate venue for this tale.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • GM1953

      back in the 60s young men convicted of crimes WERE given the choice of prison or military. It's not done anymore, but it was common during viet nam. My next door neighbor was given that choice after his third conviction for car theft

      October 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Raefert "J diddy" Johnson

    And guess who myself and every single friend and family I have are going to vote for again, no matter what.
    We need some way to cull uninformed voters from the informed. Old people spun on meds and bus loads of ignorant churchgoers should not decide who should lead. Half of them need reminded to take their dang meds! for crying out loud.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Lets start by culling you first Mr. "Diddy". If you are as ignorant as your posts indicate, society would be better off as a whole without you dragging it down.

      October 2, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • trees141

      Felons are disenfranchised.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • trees141

      If "yourself and every single friend and family (sic) you have," excluded the felons who cannot vote, represent the demographic of voters who plan to vote for the candidate I expect you support, God help the country!

      October 2, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • trees141

      Pardon my grammatical error; I meant to type "excluding" rather than "excluded."

      October 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bilz

    Wow, wins a million dollars and gets the rare chance to start life with a house and car paid for. Who doesn't dream of such luck? Guess mom and dad were right when they said you won't appreciate what you didn't earn. My only sympathies are for the child..

    October 2, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. sanjosemike

    Lottery winnings to a druggie? That's just plain stupid. Why not just give all the money to her drug supplier and skip the "middleman."

    sanjosemike

    October 2, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • dave

      simply jealous

      October 3, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Stephanie

    When will people understand that this woman symbolizes "lost generations"? Why do we have people who feel they don't deserve a better life or don't want to work towards a better life for themselves or their kids? The percentage of people who refuse to work because they think society owes them something is growing and until we make it harder for people to live off the government than to work for themselves, we are going to have tragedys like this young mother. The real victim here are now her children. If we don't want to have future generations turning out like this poor woman, we need to intervene as family and friends to help others become self sustaining.

    October 2, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • TampaMom

      Stephanie, you talk about "lost generations" and intervention to get people off government programs, but my guess is she fell into a group that many don’t like to talk about “the working poor”. According to this story she was receiving $200 a month for food which leads me to believe that she had some income as that’s not a sizeable amount for food each month with children.

      The belief that only those individuals who are lazy and unwilling to work get aide is so politically biased it’s sickening. Step back and ask yourself – Who are the working poor? A young man or woman in boot camp who has a family, my son’s children were eligible for WIC until he deployed the first time and built up rank. A teacher’s aide, a student, the mechanic who fixes your car and only gets 20 hours a week on the schedule so his employer doesn’t have to offer benefits could all be eligible for some governmental assistance.

      In 2010 my daughter gave birth 8 weeks early. She lost her job because my granddaughter was in the NICU for 12 weeks in a city 2 hours from her home. She wasn’t able to find work that kept my granddaughter out of day care which her doctor wouldn’t allow after she was released. My son-in-law had his hours cut in half as part of government downsizing during that same time period. He lost his benefits and was not able to find part time work making enough to cover the difference. They managed to keep their home from falling into foreclosure, but paid a dear price for their effort. I found out recently that they went 2 years with no heat or air conditioning, no TV, no cell phones. My son-in-law sold his own plasma once a week and my daughter skipped so many meals she dropped nearly 40 lbs. just to make the house payment and keep the lights on. They are not a “lost generation” – they are the embodiment of the working poor. The only assistance they would even think of taking was WIC and Medicare for their daughter. They hid all this from me for a very long time, I’ve since moved them to FL to live with us to help them start over.

      October 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    prescription drugs are more dangerous than some illegal drugs. best is to avoid ALL drugs especially those approved by the FDA

    October 2, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • trees141

      I get what you mean, but you are over-generalizing. One should avoid all UNNECESSARY drugs, and take those you are prescribed by a competent physician exactly as directed. Some of us need medications to stay alive.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. atheist

    Good riddance to bad garbage

    October 2, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. wow

    Money root of evil again...

    October 2, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. kesewah singhn

    why is everyone judging as if money is the root of all evil. it all depends on the individuality ok. who sa money is not sweeeeeeeeeet

    October 2, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dynamic

    "Prescription drugs" are dangerous – ask any dead celebrity.

    October 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Skillet

    move to Canada, you don't pay taxes on lottery winnings

    October 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TampaMom

    The hate against this woman is just wrong. Many are classing her as a lazy, deadbeat in need of intervention to get off government programs. My guess is she was under educated and had no role model in her life. I'm pretty sure she fell into a group that many don’t like to talk about “the working poor”. According to this story she was receiving $200 a month for food which leads me to believe that she had some income as that’s not a sizeable amount for food each month for her and a child.

    The belief that only those individuals who are lazy and unwilling to work get aide is so politically biased it’s sickening.

    Step back and ask yourself – Who are the working poor? A young man or woman in boot camp who has a family, my son’s children were eligible for WIC until he deployed the first time and built up rank. A teacher’s aide, a student, the mechanic who fixes your car and only gets 20 hours a week on the schedule so his employer doesn’t have to offer benefits could all be eligible for some governmental assistance.

    In 2010 my daughter gave birth 8 weeks early. She lost her job because my granddaughter was in the NICU for 12 weeks in a city 2 hours from her home. She wasn’t able to find work that kept my granddaughter out of day care which her doctor wouldn’t allow after she was released. My son-in-law had his hours cut in half as part of government downsizing during that same time period. He lost his benefits and was not able to find part time work making enough to cover the difference. They managed to keep their home from falling into foreclosure, but paid a dear price for their effort. I found out recently that they went 2 years with no heat or air conditioning, no TV, no cell phones. My son-in-law sold his own plasma once a week and my daughter skipped so many meals she dropped nearly 40 lbs. just to make the house payment, keep the lights on and place one meal a day on the table. They are not lazy or deadbeats as so many would like to believe – they are the embodiment of the working poor. The only assistance they would even think of taking was WIC and Medicare for their daughter. They hid all this from me for a very long time, I’ve since moved them to FL to live with us to help them start over.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • flo

      God bless you !!! compared to all the other able mothers out there that can do but dont for their own . You would of been a great role model to this young girl

      October 3, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
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