Lynnwood couple sentenced for defrauding programs aimed at helping needy
A Lynnwood couple who defrauded state and federal programs designed to assist the needy were sentenced to prison and home confinement Wednesday after being convicted of multiple counts of mail fraud and theft of government funds.
Igor Meyer, 47, and his wife, Zoya Mushailova, 35, each were sentenced to 30 days in prison, six months of home detention and three years of supervised release. The couple had a household income of approximately $100,000 and owned their own home. However, they represented to caseworkers that Meyer was a single father of four with income of less than $12,000 per year, allowing him to collect housing and other government benefits.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said the fraud scheme “has a real corrosive impact on society… both in the attitude of taxpayers and in denying benefits to people who really need them.”
The couple was indicted in October 2011, and the two were convicted following a jury trial in October 2012. Evidence at trial revealed they schemed to defraud programs for the needy of more than $70,000 over three years. The couple purchased a Lynnwood condominium in Mushailova’s name and they used a real estate management company to ‘rent’ it to Meyer, claiming he was a former in-law of Mushailova. Meyer applied for both food and Social Security benefits as a single father of four, claiming the family had no income.
Mushailova not only owned the Lynnwood condo, she also owned a rental property in Arizona, making the family ineligible for aid. Far from being needy, the couple drove luxury cars and took cross country and international vacations. On the day they returned from one such vacation to New York and Mount Rushmore, Meyer submitted a declaration to the housing program claiming Mushailova was his “ex-wife” and he did not know where she lived.
In asking for prison time, prosecutors noted that the average time on the waiting list for housing assistance in Snohomish County is six years. “Defendants exploited social programs intended for the poor. By fraudulently collecting housing benefits they did not need, they denied truly needy families the opportunity to obtain decent housing. They stole funds intended to provide food, cash and medical assistance to the poor. In short, defendants enriched themselves by victimizing the most vulnerable members of the community,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.