KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A former member of the Missouri House is facing up to a decade in federal prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to illegally receiving nearly $60,000 in Social Security disability payments while serving in the state Legislature.
Raymond E. Salva, 65, of Sugar Creek, must repay $58,816 in restitution to the Social Security Administration before he is sentenced on one count of theft of government money.
In his plea deal, Salva admitted that he intentionally concealed earnings of more than $30,000 a year while serving as a state representative from January 2003 through December 2010. The restitution amount represents overpayments he received January 2004 through February 2008.
In addition to a possible sentence of up to 10 years without parole, he also could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000.
“Today Mr. Salva accepted responsibility for his actions and entered his plea,” said his attorney, J.R. Hobbs. “Now he will be working with the appropriate court agencies and the court toward an effective sentencing hearing sometime in late summer or early fall.”
Prosecutors said Salva admitted Wednesday that he “was not merely negligent, careless or mistaken as to whether he was eligible to receive Social Security disability payments,” but instead “took deliberate actions to avoid confirming the high probability of wrongdoing in this case.”
Salva was approved for disability insurance benefits in February 2000 after he claimed he was unable to work because of a neck injury he suffered in a farm accident.
Five months after he began his term as a state representative, prosecutors said, he assured the Social Security Administration he had not done any work since being disabled.
After being questioned by the agency in December 2004 about earnings that had been posted to his record, Salva responded that an SSA representative had told him public service would not affect his disability benefits.
In his plea, he admitted that he lied and had not consulted with an agency representative. He also acknowledged lying to an administrative law judge at two hearings while he was appealing the SSA bill he received in September 2008 demanding reimbursement for the overpayments, prosecutors said.
The administrative law judge determined in April 2011 that Salva was at fault for causing the overpayments.
No sentencing date has been set.