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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  • by Anonymous on May 20, 2011 at 06:48 PM
    why did they STOP the work program and HOME VISITS??? some get the cards and some should be getting more than they the older ones on Social Security.or disabled people.What the guide lines are on how much people make,needs changed.Many are going hungry because the price of food has gone higher & higher.I have basic bills to pay& cash for my food as well.Problem is we are not eating much,but I can't get helped even with my husband be disabled.and I get under 500$ social security.But have kids & one gets everything.
  • by Doug Location: East Lansing on May 20, 2011 at 07:21 AM
    Shame on him, however shame on the State and there broken system. This would never happen if there were better oversight to these ridiculous social programs! I say if you are using these programs and you are an able body that the state puts you to work for it and no longer just a hand out. Oh yea and a drug test!!!
  • by Gayle Location: Brooklyn on May 19, 2011 at 10:11 AM
    If he has invested this money, he must be earning interest and that is considered income. I have to claim interest on my income taxes. Or does he have it under his mattress or already spent it all?
  • by lana on May 19, 2011 at 05:50 AM
    This is wrong. While he is driving around in a new car and has plenty of money to spend other people that have no job and no money are going without while he is flaunting the fact the he is using a bridge card to buy food. I am outraged.
  • by Anonymous on May 19, 2011 at 04:49 AM
    MR KICK should be Responsible for paying the Money back that he Basically stole from the state..At the hands of the Workers who Allowed him to keep the card. Meanwhile, people who are in desparate need are being DENIED. This man should be charged with FRAUD, because that's what he is. One of those who think's he's entitled to anything and everything..He's thinking that since the Govt took their tax money from it, he's Entitled to WELFARE?? with a mentality like that, Michigan will never recover. The man doesnt feel bad, because he Doesnt CARE..only thing he cares about his Himself. Morally the man is worthless!
  • by Ron Location: Jackson on May 19, 2011 at 04:21 AM
    It makes me wonder how many other people are using the bridge card, that dont need it.
  • by Kim Location: Mason on May 19, 2011 at 03:54 AM
    What they need to do is somehow figure out how to do a monthly statement. Like we would get at the bank. Every member holding a bridgecard making a purchase with that bridgecard number, the statement will go to caseworker, and if there are undesiralbe purchases cut off the leech!
  • by Linda Location: Lansing on May 18, 2011 at 05:14 PM
    This needs to stop today. What a disgrace to Mi and what this bridge card is meant to stand for. Think of the hungry children. This man should be shamed to pieces. Has it been said if he helped anyone
  • by Bobbie Location: Lansing on May 18, 2011 at 04:50 PM
    What they aren't mentioning is that he won 2 million..the rest of which ended up in the State's coffers.May not seem kosher..but I can't blame him for feeling like the State took a LOT of HIS money and he's probably only getting about $200 a month from them.They're going to have to go some before they catch up with what they TOOK from him.
  • by cindy Location: somerset on May 18, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    This is not right, my mother gets ssi from the state and does not get enough to live on. She just got approved for the bridge card so she can buy food. Before when she tried to get help they told her she won't get approved because it was just her. This is wrong! They also told her to sell her car and other things. My mother doesn't have a car and that's what she told them and they said they didn't care. All I can say is shame on the State of Michigan for this.
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