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. dave

    @Economy Builder: Enjoy it while you can, you're still gonna die someday - or will your money fix that too?

    October 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. FoolKiller

    "A fight broke out involving a knife, bat and airsoft gun" My money's on the bat. Just sayin'...

    October 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard

    Still think the rich and the poor are the same?

    October 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      They were for her.

      October 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ultium

      The rich have more experience hiding their drug abuse problems. I get to deal with that daily.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • William T. Sherman = HERO

      Ask Rush Limbaugh about drug abuse, bagger..

      October 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jerutha

    Karma sux, dont it?

    October 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • pattinyc317

      That's sad & for anyone who says KARMA had something to do with it....well that KARMA always bites

      October 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Me


      No such thing as karma. the best way to define her death is this "YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW".

      October 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • NadsWA

      Just knocking out a few of the weakest links. If only a few more could be taken out!

      October 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. alan

    I like the karma angle; she got what she deserved

    October 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      Wait until you get yours!

      October 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      So karma to you is the death penalty for taking $5000 you didn't deserve even though you paid it back. Interesting.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      we all get ours

      October 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      She deserved to die because she defrauded the state out of some money? She didn't put a gun to anyone's head and she didn't steal billions like white collar criminals. Comparitively, her crime was minor to a lot of what we see today. Yes, it was a lousy thing to do and it strikes a nerve with a lot of people . But, she was that little girl's mother and somebody's daughter yet so many of you posters think she deserved to die. Wow! Something bad happened to her to make her life spin so out of control . What made your life spin so out of control to hate so much ? If she was your sister would you wish for her to die ?

      October 2, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hooligan

    I hardly thing dying is a just punishment for wellfare fraud.

    That money she was receiving is ALL of ours and hers too.

    The amount of money she took from the state is nothing in comparison to what elected officials use for their glamorous dinner parties and vacation trips on our dime.

    October 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobby

      No she died because she shot too much dope in her arm, not because she was a lying, cheatin' stealin' person.

      October 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Me

      I don't either, but when you do drugs, this is what they get.

      October 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Heartless Democrat

    I am heartless democrat. Don't care about poor, and the rich. Too bad you are poor, worse if you are rich. I am lazy, sleeping and welfare lover. Why I need go to work for? I receive enough money for myself. Who care others. kakaka

    October 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      Yeah, I am one of those 47% deadbeat liberals,too. I have worked in restaurants for over 30 years and all I can tell you is that whenever a Republican President comes into office I have hard times ahead. There is a recession coming due to some implosion of the banking system due to deregulation. Everyone wants to raid the cookie jar and the bill finally comes due. I always end up out of work or unable to pay my bills. People still want to go out to eat, but the tips drop to 10% or lower. After taxes and tipping out bussers and bartenders , I am left making two or three dollars on a 150$ check.Now, I am back in school and trying to train for a career type job. You bet your sweet bippy I am taking school loans , Pell Grants , and possibly food stamps if I am eligible. Sure, I'll take the medical insurance if I am eligible. What else ya got? If oil companies can get billions in subsidies and politicians can set their own salaries while feeding at the lobbyist's trough , I am taking whatever I am eligible for. In two years, I will be making twice what I did in a year before and my backside will be sore after Mitty gets through with me. That's what a lot of us 47% are like.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. Babaloo10

    This story has endlessly appeared in national news stories and your local news for many days now. What is the purpose? Is this death news? The story continues to vilify her even after she settled things and paid the welfare money back. Poor thing. She is first I've heard to die of a drug overdose because of all the hostile public scrutiny over what she did. And now news agencies keep her in the news for days, wringing every moment out of her death and story. Media companies are blood-suckers!

    October 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • NadsWA

      You're right, what is the purpose? Here we have people fighting to defend our freedom, and their death's are completely over-shadowed by low lives like this. How can so many of you speak of her as if she were a saint? This job-less woman obviously used whatever money she could to buy lottery tickets, and (unfortunately) got lucky. The reason she paid the welfare money back was because she HAD too; iIt would have been jail time if she hadn't. And her over-dosing due to public scrutiny? What a load of bull! She was a frequent user. Also, new flash people, whatever killed her, if it was in fact a drug, was much stronger than a little weed. She was a low life, system abusing junkie, without a future; had she lived, she would be the exact same. Don't pretend to shed a tear over this death.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fernace

    Only goes to show that $$ does not bring happiness & doesn't make life easier! If your life is filled w/drugs it will be moreso if you suddenly have lots of $$ to use for your "use"! This woman died probably from her use & if she'd been smart she'd used the $$ to get off her use & make a healthy life for herself & her daughter! She did not! She continued using foodstamps, even knowing she was not qualified! I hope her daughter gets the $$ & whoever cares for her does the right thing, $$ or not!!

    October 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big_D

    This is a sad story. She must have had more problems than her money could fix. I will reserve judgement. I heard that was God's anyway. I hope there is some money to care for her child and the child can get good care. Go ahead and throw those stones "Christians"?

    October 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • janelle

      I am a Christian and have no stones to throw. The death of anyone is sad, and the young are especially tragic. Why does anyone's death cause you to immediately curse Christians? Perhaps you have some issues to work out before you waste your life being miserable.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie S

      Thanks so much for a true Christian point of view ... this young girl made mistakes (like every.single.one.of.us.that.are.commenting. – what? are any of YOU perfect?). Now we have two young children who will grow up without a mother – my prayers go out to them and to her family and I hope that she's in a much better place now.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bree

    u guys all care WAY too much ..wow. At least im getting My entertainment for the day ha..

    October 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jesse357

    Tragic end to this young mother and terrible loss to her child. This girl needed someone to love and care for her and keep the jackals at bay. The first thing she should have done after winning is MOVE away from relatives and learn to say NO. Those who cared about "her" and not the money would have been obvious. It is terrible some of the comments here that are filled with such hate. My heart and prayers go out to her family.

    October 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • NadsWA

      You act as if she had a gun held to her head that made her abuse drugs. Sure, the idea of death is sad. But the value of life...get real if you think this woman had any ounce of caring or use in her.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • GM1953

      1st thing she should have done is leave drugs alone. She's dead because of HER choices

      October 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. P Ness

    Attention all Lotto winners:If they weren't your friends BEFORE you won the money they shouldn't be your friends AFTER you win the money. It's quite simple

    And secondly,you can take the Girl out of the ghetto/trailer park but you can't take the ghetto/trailer park out of the Girl

    October 1, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kate Uptons Rack

    LOL...can I get a Nelson "HA-HA!!!!"

    October 1, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JamesC

    It is truly sad that she could not find her way in this world. God rest her soul.


    October 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
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