Lawmakers To End Lottery-Bridge Card Loophole 5-19-2011 - WNEM TV 5

Lawmakers To End Lottery-Bridge Card Loophole 5-19-2011

TV5’s original story "Man Still On Food Stamps Despite Winning $2M" of a Bay County man who is still using food stamps nearly a year after winning a jackpot on “Make Me Rich” has gotten a lot of national attention.
Now, local lawmakers across the state are calling for legislation that prevents lottery winners from receiving any public assistance.
Earlier this week, TV5 introduced viewers to Leroy Fick, a man who won $2 million on a Michigan lottery show and admits that he still uses his Bridge Card.
But the most shocking thing about the story may be that, according to the State Department of Human Services, it’s all legal.
“All loopholes in the law that allow such a ridiculous situation need to be closed immediately,” said State Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare.
Johnson isn’t the only lawmaker hoping to put an end to the loophole. State Rep. Charles Brunner D-Bay City and Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland also plan to introduce similar legislation.

Watch Past Clips:

DHS officials confirmed that Fick was directed to continue using the Bridge Card and that his eligibility was even recently reviewed and reconfirmed. The state officials blamed the loophole on the fact that the $850,000 lump sum payment Fick received is not counted in federal guidelines that determine eligibility for food stamps.
"Like everyone in Bay County, I am disgusted and appalled that the state would let a rich man take advantage of taxpayer dollars earned by hard-working people," Brunner said. "Residents have every right to be angry and outraged. The system is broken and it has to be fixed right now."
However, Sen. Debbie Stabenow told TV5 under federal laws, Fick's Bridge Card should have been taken away the second he hit the jackpot.
"Leroy Fick is on disability, which is a federal program," she said. "There is absolutely no rule that says he can continue on that program being a lottery winner."
So it appears until Michigan leaders can come to a conclusion, the lottery loophole will stay open and Fick will continue to purchase items like his new Audi convertible -- all while receiving state-funded assistance.
“Unfortunately, just when we think we’ve heard it all, including use of Bridge Cards at ATMs in casinos and vacation hotspots, a story about a millionaire getting food stamps proves there is much more that needs to be done,” Moolenaar said.
Fick did say that more than half the prize money went to taxes -- just before ending the impromptu interview with TV5's Bill Walsh.
"If you're going to sit there and try to make me feel bad, you aren't going to do," Fick told Walsh just before slamming the door.
Nearly 1.9 million Michigan residents are enrolled in the food assistance program.
Click the video below to watch TV5's unedited interview with Mr. Fick:
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