Former Missouri lawmaker Raymond E. Salva pleads guilty to Social Security fraud

A former legislator from Sugar Creek pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally drawing Social Security disability payments while serving in the Missouri General Assembly.

Raymond E. Salva, a 65-year-old Democrat, illegally received almost $59,000 in disability payments while earning about $30,000 a year as a state representative between January 2003 and December 2010.

Salva’s indictment, filed in November, stated that he was not entitled to receive the disability payments because he intentionally concealed his earnings and work as a state lawmaker.

The government made efforts over the years to reconfirm his eligibility and collect overpayments. In a 2011 appearance before an administrative law judge, Salva said he “took it for granted” that he was eligible because Social Security kept paying him, according to court records.

But in his plea agreement Wednesday, Salva acknowledged that he deliberately tried to avoid learning whether the payments he was receiving were illegal.

“The defendant admits that he was not merely negligent, careless or mistaken as to whether he was eligible to receive Social Security disability payments,” the plea agreement stated. “Rather, the defendant admits that he took deliberate actions to avoid confirming the high probability of wrongdoing in this case.”