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May 2012


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Seattle Couple Living in Million Dollar Lakehouse Plead “Guilty” to Collecting Welfare

Shoshanna Utchenik

A Seattle couple busted for welfare fraud pleaded guilty Thursday. Apparently they had a lot more to lose than met the eye.

Chiropractor David Silverstein, 60, was the lover of Lyudmila Shimonova, 53, but told authorities he was her landlord of the million dollar home near Pritchard Beach on Lake Washington in South Seattle.

Consequently, he collected $1,250 a month in federal HUD rent subsidies on behalf of his girlfriend Shimonova, 53, who lived with Silverstein and her two children. Silverstein raked in more than $135,000 in housing benefits over the course of the ongoing scheme.

As part of the scheme, Silverstein gave his business address as his home address to make it look as if he didn’t live in the home.

Shimonova had jewelry, insurance and CD’s worth more than $30,000, though on applications for public assistance she claimed to have no assets but her small checking account, authorities said. The couple lied on at least 7 applications over the years, and received food, medical and disability benefits from the state and Social Security.

Under a plea agreement, the couple will pay more than $261,000 in restitution plus an additional civil penalty of $216,441, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

“Today we ensured this couple will not profit from their flagrant greed,” said U. S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. “In addition to a significant financial penalty, we will ask the judge to impose prison time. They stole resources that should have gone to the truly needy, illegally taking the place of others in a housing program with a long waiting list. This conduct hurts people who need assistance and weakens public support for a vital safety net. I commend HUD and SSA for the work done to protect the public interest in this case.”

Sentencing will take place Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

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