David Silverstein, a wealthy chiropractor from Seattle, and his wife were living in a $1.2million waterfront home while claiming almost $2,000-a-month welfare benefits and even food stamps, according to documents.
A civil lawsuit has been filed against David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova, who are accused of making false claims which included more than $1,200 in public housing vouchers, plus state and government disability cheques and even food stamps.
Prosecutors are demanding they pay back more than $135,000 in federal housing assistance since 2003 and are seeking tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
It is thought the couple has spent some of the money they claimed over the last eight years flying to Moscow, Paris, Israel, Turkey, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
All the while, federal authorities say, David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova was collecting more than $100,000 in welfare.
Lyudmila 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.
“Defendants have separately and, it appears, in conjunction with one another made false representations to various state and federal agencies in order to obtain federally funded benefits,” assistant U.S. attorneys Harold Malkin and Kayla Stahman wrote.
Meanwhile, David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova 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 week-long trips to Moscow in 2003, Dominican Republic in 2005, and Mexico and France in 2009.
In 2007, David Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova went for 12 days to Israel, and this past June they took a two-week trip to Turkey.
The investigation included surveillance of the three-bedroom, 2,300-square-foot home on Lake Washington, during which agents observed his black Jaguar parked there frequently.
Though Lyudmila Shimonova had claimed she was single and lived there alone, David Silverstein listed it as his residence on his driver’s license and passport application, the prosecutors said.
But in documents filed so that he could receive the housing assistance, David Silverstein listed his office as his residence to conceal that he was living with Lyudmila Shimonova – not her landlord, they said.
In addition to failing to disclose the marriage or living situation, Lyudmila Shimonova also failed to disclose bank accounts in her name containing tens of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.
The lawsuit seeks to have the couple pay $11,000 in fines for each false claim the couple made. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on whether criminal charges are forthcoming.
According to Yahoo, the couple’s home includes gardens and a boat dock and that they accurately listed the address of the $1.2million property when applying for the benefits.
A federal official told the station that the couple likely took advantage of a loophole, which allows low-income individuals to receive financial assistance to help them pay their rent and move away from housing projects.
David Silverstein received the monthly benefits of $1,272 as Lyudmila Shimonova’s purported landlord, despite the fact he drives a Jaguar and has a successful chiropractor.
The government says that in gaining Section 8 housing assistance, Lyudmila Shimonova represented that she lived alone with her two children and that her household assets were less than $5,000.
On his website, David Silverstein states: “I am happily married with two children, whose careers are in medicine and Middle Eastern studies.
“As a family, we all enjoy snow shoeing, mountain climbing and ocean sports.”