Investigation of insurance theft leads to sentencing

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A Lincoln County man was given a six-year deferred sentence in Montana 19th Judicial District Court, June 10, in Libby, for charges related to concealing business/employment activity to maintain Social Security Disability Insurance payments.

Judge Matt Cuffe sentenced Stanley Daniel Silva to six years deferred with the Montana Department of Corrections for one count of theft, a felony. Silva initially pleaded not guilty to the theft on February 25, but later changed his plea to guilty on May 6.

According a case investigation, during an interview with Social Security Investigator Jacques Harsen, Silva said he was “struggling to make ends meet” and that he “knew it was a crime to lie to investigators.”

Silva also said he would accept responsibility and that the situation was “all his fault,” according to the investigation. David Hall, a detective with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office stated Silva and his wife, Christie Silva, had a previous felony theft and elder abuse case.

Harsen asked Hall, who indicated that the Silvas agreed to an interview, to ask questions regarding how long their construction business had been established, what work was done prior to the business and what physical labor was done, along with other work-related questions, according to the investigation.

Harsen reported that the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office initially alleged that both Silvas were concealing their self-employment/business, Silva’s Construction LLC, from the Social Security Administration. Since Silva is on Social Security Disability Insurance, as a beneficiary, he is legally obligated to report work, employment or events affecting eligibility to SSDI benefits to the administration.

Harsen wrote that he queried the SSA, but could not find any employment report from Silva. On April 17, 2018, the SSA determined that Silva was ineligible for benefits between June 2016 and December 2017, and that $41,693 was overpaid, according to the report.

During Silva’s interview, he stated that his wife advised him against starting a business because it would affect his Disability Insurance benefits, according to the investigation. Silva also stated that he thought filing taxes notified the SSA of his employment changes.

Silva said he thought the IRS and SSA were the same, according to the investigation. Adding, “I’m not denying that I did not work, because I filed the taxes.”

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