A couple who lived in this $1.2 million waterfront home has pleaded guilty to theft of government funds for accepting federal rent assistance. (Photo: King 5 News)

Waterfront welfare couple gets prison time

A Seattle couple who received government assistance while they lived a lavish life on Lake Washington will serve prison time.

David Silverstein, 60, and Lyudmila Shimonova, 53, pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in May.

Both were sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison and three years supervised released.

"They had plenty of means, living in a waterfront home, and yet they were claiming to be so poor that they needed Section 8 housing vouchers," said Emily Langlie with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.

Prosecutors said Silverstein, a chiropractor, pretended that he was Shimonova's landlord, and that she was living at the home on Lake Washington with her two children. In reality, Silverstein was living there too.

They received more than $1,200 each month in federal housing assistance, and Shimonova also received more than $100,000 in state and Social Security benefits while owning a $12,500 platinum and diamond ring and $17,000 diamond earrings.

"They stole funds intended to provide food, cash and medical assistance to the poor," said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. "In short, these defendants enriched themselves by victimizing the most vulnerable members of our community. Today they are held accountable."

Silverstein has already paid $333,970 in restitution and civil penalties. Shimonova was ordered to pay more than $261,000 in restitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brandi Kruse, KIRO Radio Reporter
Brandi Kruse is a reporter for KIRO Radio who is as spontaneous and adventurous in her free time as she is on the job. Brandi arrived at KIRO Radio in March 2011 and has already collected three regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
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