Seattle couple gets $100,000 in food stamps despite living in million dollar homePosted: Updated:
SEATTLE -- Federal search warrants show what agents were after when they raided a Lake Washington waterfront property last week while investigating a welfare recipient living in a million dollar home.
This story generated outrage across the country after KING 5 Investigator Chris Ingalls broke it last Friday. Since then, Ingalls has received emails from taxpayers in Texas, Massachusetts and elsewhere who are aghast.
The government has been paying rent subsidies for Lyudmila Shimonova while she lives in a $1.2 million Seattle home. She was truthful about her waterfront address, which federal court records show she has lived at since 2003.
She's drawn $135,000 in housing subsidy payments -- taxpayer money that's supposed to put a roof over the heads of low-income families. Shimonova also received federal and state cash assistance and food stamps.
The government is trying to get money back from Shimonova and the man it believes is her husband, Seattle chiropractor David Silverstein, a chiropractor. Federal agents believe the two are married, something she didn't report on her welfare applications.
The KING 5 Investigators obtained a copy of the search warrant pertaining to last Thursday's search of the 2,500 square-foot waterfront home. Agents seized a "photo album of family and dog," "greeting cards (anniversary and birthday)," and "2 postcards from Ruben to Mom and Dad." These are things agents might use to try to prove the couple is married.
On the website for Dr. Silverstein's chiropractic office he says he is "happily married with two children."
Local painter Michael Rotchadl is employed now after spending five grueling months on food stamps. He can't believe someone who appears to have so much would take from public programs for those who have nothing.
"To find out that somebody is living in a plush mansion on the waterfront, something that we'd all dream to have, and they're doing it on the dime that is supposed to give food and housing and assistance to those people who don’t have anything, it was just gut wrenching," said Rotchadl.
Dr. Silverstein's office was closed on Tuesday, and KING 5 hasn't been able to reach either him or Shimonova for a comment. Neither of them is charged yet, but the government has filed a lawsuit against them to recover some of the lost money.
Many have asked why it took the government so long to find out Shimonova lived in a million dollar home. One federal agent told KING 5 News it's a flaw that the government doesn't do an address check, when there are many websites that show the location of any address.