May 9, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Couple living in Lake Washington waterfront home charged with welfare fraud
A Seward Park chiropractor and a woman accused of collecting welfare benefits and food stamps while living in a $1.2 million lakefront home in South Seattle have been charged with theft of government funds.
David Mark Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova allegedly embezzled $115,000 in benefit payments from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to charging papers filed in U.S. District Court yesterday.
Seattle attorney David Allen, who is representing Silverstein, said “David Silvertein is fully taking responsibility for his actions, he is pleading guilty, tenatively a week from today.”
“He is paying fines and restitution in double the amount of the money he received.” Allen said.
Shimonova’s lawyer, Michele Shaw, said Shimonova is slated to plead guilty alongside Silverstein next Wednesday.
“She will be entering a guilty plea to the charge filed by the government. She has a great deal of remorse for her participation in this incident,” Shaw said.
In December, the federal goverment filed suit against the couple. While the lawsuit claimed that the two “are believed to be man and wife,” Shimonova has claimed to be disabled. She has been the recipient of the benefits.
The lawsuit alleged that Silverstein collected more than $1,000 a month in federal Housing and Urban Development rent subsidies for Shimonova to live in the home near Pritchard Beach on Lake Washington.
HUD, however, said it was not aware that Silverstein was living at the home with Shimonova, and that the couple appear to be married — conditions that would make him ineligible to receive the payments, and wrong for Shimonova to apply for them.
The lawsuit alleges the couple violated the False Claims Act by lying on applications at least seven times over the years.
The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, alleges that Silverstein received more than $135,000 in housing benefits while living in the home. The lawsuit and search warrants say Silverstein was routinely seen at the home driving a black Jaguar.
Federal agents from the HUD Office of Inspector General executed a search warrant at the lakefront home on Nov. 29. The warrant said agents are investigating the couple for mail fraud, Social Security fraud and theft of government funds.
The civil suit is still pending in U.S. District Court, said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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