Federal prosecutors are asking for what they call “substantial” prison sentences for a wealthy Seattle couple that received hundreds of thousands of dollars in welfare benefits.
During sentencing hearings Friday in Seattle federal court, prosecutors will ask the judge to sentence Dr. David Silverstein to 18 months in prison. They plan to ask for a 21-month sentence for his wife, Lyudmila Shimonova.
In sentencing documents, prosecutors say the couple received $261,703 from three public assistance agencies.
As the KING 5 Investigators first reported last year, the couple received rent checks from the Seattle Housing Authority while living in a $1.2 million home on south Lake Washington. The couple was enrolled in the rent assistance program for eight years.
Shimonova was a low-income mother receiving food stamps and medical benefits when she met Dr. Silverstein ten years ago. He posed as her landlord when she moved into his Lake Washington home. He claimed to be living at another address.
However, agents from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General caught on. They developed evidence that the couple was actually married and living together.
In documents filed with the court this week, Dr. Silverstein's lawyer says the Seattle chiropractor suffers from “significant mental health issues,” including depression and paranoia. The documents suggest this could be why a wealthy doctor with no criminal record could have been involved in such a scheme. (Read the document below.)
“It’s unspeakable. It’s just totally wrong,” Wendy Reed of Seattle told KING 5.
Reed spent four years on the Seattle Housing Authority’s waiting list for housing benefits. There are now about a thousand people waiting for the type of rent assistance Silverstein and Shimonova received for all those years.
“It makes me feel very angry because I and other people have been gypped, have been neglected, have been living on the street,” said Reed.