Closing Bridge Card Loopholes After Lottery Winner Cashes In

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Meet Leroy Fick, he's the Auburn man who won $2 million from the Michigan Lottery back in June. Despite that windfall, he's still using his state-issued Bridge Card to buy groceries, and not afraid to say so.

"You aren't going to make me feel bad about this, no you are not," Fick told a reporter Tuesday at his home in Auburn.

Despite Fick's feelings about it, lawmakers Wednesday were outraged.

"When I first heard about it, it was shocking," Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, said.

"It's an obscene use of taxpayer dollars," Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said.

Maybe so, but as it turns out, Fick is not breaking any laws because he took his winnings in a lump sum, that makes it an asset and not income which would need to be reported.

"Under the federal guidelines, Michigan has a waiver, and under that waiver we are able to not count assets when determining food assistance," Gisgie Gendreau, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services, said.

Gendreau said Department Director Maura Corrigan is reviewing these policies, looking at ways that this loophole can be closed.

"We are working on the state end to try to fix it," Gendreau said.

This is just one of many problems with the Bridge Card System, and lawmakers told News Ten they have proposed bills and will continue to do so to fix these issues.

Senator Moolenaar is drafting a bill that would require the lottery to release winner's names to DHS.

"So they know when someone is winning the lottery, yet still available for assistance," he said.

Sen. Jones' bill would disallow bridge cards from working in casino ATM's, another problem he said.

"What I'm hearing is they're getting a lot of people that shouldn't have the cards," Jones said.

But Lansing doesn't move very quickly, and in the meantime, Fick said he's going to continue to use his Bridge Card.


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