Inspector didn't suspect fraud at welfare recipient's million dollar home

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on December 9, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 9 at 6:40 PM

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Housing Authority is scrambling to explain why it paid rent for a woman living in a million dollar home.

In an exclusive interview with KING 5, one of the inspectors who has visited the home in recent years said she didn't see any signs of fraud. Lora Wait-Hoy said the welfare recipient who lived in the Lake Washington waterfront home had a believable story about how she came to live there.

"She said someone from her synagogue had moved and he wanted someone to take care of it,” Wait-Hoy said. “He kept the rent reasonable, which is what our qualifications are, and it passed the inspections."

So the housing authority sent the landlord a $1,200 rent check every month, a couple of hundred dollars less than HUD’s maximum limit for a three bedroom home.

The $1.2 million home has a view, gardens and even a boat, but throughout eight years of annual check-ups inspectors never raised a single suspicion about fraud.

“That's not part of my job,” Wait-Hoy said. “My job is to look for housing quality standard issues.”

Last week, federal agents raided the home, accusing Lyudmila Shimonova of lying for years on applications to receive rent and cash assistance and food stamps. They say Seattle doctor David Silverstein, the man she called her landlord, is actually her husband who lives in the waterfront home with her.

Seattle Housing Authority’s Lisa Wolters said the inspectors fulfilled their basic duties in the case.

“In going forward in talking about reviewing our policies, I think we'll learn from this and we'll look at a house like this with a different lens," said Wolters.

The housing authority said its reviewing its policies and its inventory of homes to make sure isn't another case like this sitting out there.

Neither Shimonova or Silverstein has been charged yet and KING 5 has been unable to reach them for a comment.

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