By Kate Northrop
MIDLAND, Mich. — The body of a Michigan lottery winner was discovered by Midland police floating in a river over the weekend.
69-year-old Leroy Fick, of Auburn, was found dead right before 10:30 am on Sat., Jun. 5 in the Tittabawassee River.
In June 2010, Fick won $2 million in Michigan's Make Me Rich! Lottery and received a lump sum of about $850,000. He sparked controversy when he admitted to collecting food stamps 11 months after the win.
"If you're going to try to make me feel bad, you're not going to do it," he told reporters at the time.
Food stamps are paid for through tax dollars and are meant to help support low-income families. Eligibility for food stamps is based on gross income, but lottery winnings were considered liquid assets and did not count as income under federal guidelines.
After he made headlines, legislators instated a new law that requires the Michigan Lottery to provide the name and other information of a person who wins $1,000 or more to the Department of Human Services, who would then review a winner's assets to determine if they are still eligible to receive food stamps.
In January 2012, Fick was sentenced to 45 days in jail, one year of probation, and was handed several court fines and costs for illegally possessing hydrocodone, a prescription painkiller. Police discovered the drugs in his car when they pulled him over while driving on a suspended license.
"You've just been involved in so much criminal activity over such a short period of time, that I have to give you some jail," Isabella County Trial Court Judge Mark H. Duthie said to Fick before he was escorted out of the courtroom.
His attorney, John Wilson, had argued that Fick suffered from pain and that friends provided him with the painkillers. According to Wilson, he was living on a fixed income of $1,100 a month.
Despite winning a lifechanging amount of money in the lottery, Fick blew through his winnings in about one year. Wilson added that he was not equipped to handle such a large sum and that family and friends took advantage of him.
In addition to demolishing his home, building a new one on the same property, and purchasing a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro, Fick also spent a good deal of his winnings on expensive fireworks.
That October, he was sentenced to an additional 13 to 60 months in prison after he was convicted of larceny of a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm.
"The whole thing just blew up in my face," Fick told the judge while recounting his downfall. "I thought people would love me if I helped them out some. I had the wrong idea, I guess. They all turned on me and that was it."
Officers reported that the circumstances of Fick's death do not appear to be suspicious, however they did not provide any details on the cause or manner of death. Police are asking those who have any information to call 989-839-4719.