Ex-Mo. lawmaker accused of Social Security fraud

A former Missouri lawmaker was indicted Tuesday on theft and Social Security fraud charges after receiving nearly $60,000 in federal disability payments while also getting paid for his work as a state House member.

The indictment alleges that former Democratic Rep. Ray Salva failed to notify the federal government of his employment as a legislator and thus received Social Security disability payments that he wasn't entitled to get. Salva served as a representative from the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek from January 2003 until January 2011, earning an annual salary of more than $30,000.

"An elected official who is entrusted to make the law must also follow the law," said David Ketchmark, the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri. "This kind of deceit and illegal double-dipping from the public coffers is nothing less than theft."

Salva, 65, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday.

The indictment says Salva began receiving Social Security disability benefits in February 2000 because he said he was unable to work due to a neck injury sustained in a farm accident. It claims Salva failed to report his new employment as a legislator when he completed a form in May 2003 stating that he still was unable to work because of his disability.

The fact that Salva was a legislator nonetheless apparently came to the attention of federal officials. The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City said the Social Security Administration sent Salva a bill in 2008 seeking reimbursement for $58,917 of benefits he had not been entitled to receive from January 2004 through February 2008.

The U.S. attorney's office said Salva appealed to an administrative law judge and testified during two hearings, but the administrative law judge determined in April 2011 that Salva was at fault for causing the overpayments in disability benefits.

The indictment charges Salva with theft of government money for receiving disability payments to which he was not entitled by intentionally concealing his earnings as a state legislator. The indictment also charges Salva with two counts of Social Security disability fraud, one count of making false statements to federal agents and mail fraud.

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