Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wealthy couple on welfare, feds say

The $1.2 million waterfront home where prosecutors say a Seattle chiropractor and his wife lived while claiming more than $135,000 in welfare assistance under multiple federal aid programs. (AP)

Wealthy couple on welfare, feds say

Couple on welfare had $1.2M house, traveled globe

(AP) SEATTLE - A Seattle chiropractor and his wife live in a $1.2 million waterfront home and have spent the past eight years flying to Moscow, Paris, Israel, Turkey, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

All the while, federal authorities say, the couple was collecting more than $100,000 in public welfare payments.

Now, the U.S. attorney's office is suing David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova, accusing them of filing false claims and demanding that the couple pay back more than $135,000 in federal housing assistance since 2003. Prosecutors are also seeking tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

In gaining housing assistance, Shimonova represented that she lived alone with her two children and that her household assets were less than $5,000. Silverstein received the monthly benefits of $1,272 as Shimonova's purported landlord, the government said.

Shimonova also received benefits under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, as well as Social Security cash reserved for people who can't work due to age or disability and whose assets fall below a certain threshold — $3,000 for a married couple or $2,000 for a single person, the complaint said.

Meanwhile, they were traveling the world, according to Department of Homeland Security records.

Michael Radyshewsky, a federal welfare fraud investigator, wrote in an application to search the couple's home that they took weeklong trips to Moscow in 2003, Dominican Republic in 2005, and Mexico and France in 2009. In 2007, they went for 12 days to Israel, and this past June they took a two-week trip to Turkey. Seattle couple accused of stealing $100,000, couple on welfare,

Silverstein said Tuesday his lawyer asked him not to comment. The home did not appear to have a listed phone number, and no contact information for Shimonova could immediately be found.