Wealthy Seattle couple plead guilty in welfare theft

May 17, 2012

A Seattle couple who lived in a $1.2 million waterfront home while collecting tens of thousands of dollars in welfare has pleaded guilty to theft of government funds.

The U.S. Attorney General's office in Seattle says 60-year-old David Silverstein and 53-year-old Lyudmila Shimonova pleaded guilty Thursday and will pay more than $330,000 in restitution plus $216,441 in a separate civil penalty.

Starting in 2003, prosecutors say the couple defrauded the Department of Housing and Urban Development by asking for rent assistance. In their scheme, Silverstein posed as Shiminova's landlord and received $1,250 a month. Separately, Shiminova sought assistance from state and federal welfare programs, receiving nearly $145,000.

The couple is due back in court in September for sentencing. Silverstein faces up to 18 months in prison, according to guidelines.