Yacht Couple Charged With Welfare Fraud Arrested In Fla.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota couple who allegedly received more than $167,000 worth of public assistance from Minnesota while living in Florida on a $1.2 million yacht have been arrested.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that Colin Chisholm III and Andrea Chisholm were deported from the Bahamas on Monday and arrested that night when they landed near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Chisholms’ son and dog were then turned over to other family members.
They are currently being held in Florida. They are expected to appear in extradition court on Wednesday to say whether they will return to Minnesota willingly or wish to fight extradition.
The Chisholms are charged with a one count of wrongfully obtaining public assistance more than $35,000, a felony charge.
“These rich folks ripped off the system,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman when he announced the arrest warrant on March 21.
Related: Neighbor Of Yacht Couple Calls Charges Against Them ‘Very Unsettling’
According to investigators working on the case, Colin Chisholm referred to himself in business dealings as Lord Colin Chisholm, III and his wife as Lady Chisholm.
“I can assure you that this office will do every darn thing we can do to make sure these people do hard time,” Freeman added.
According to the county attorney’s office, between Jan. 1, 2005, and May 31, 2012, Colin Chisholm, 62, and Andrea Chisholm, 54, received the public assistance illegally from several government programs designed to help the poor.
According to the criminal complaints, over the years, the Chisholms received medical assistance, welfare payments and food stamp benefits. They also lied about where they were living, who they were living with and their source of income on more than a dozen forms they filled out for the state of Minnesota and Hennepin County in order to get the assistance.
When they first applied for welfare benefits, the couple listed their residence as Andrea’s mother’s home in Minneapolis, when they really owned a luxury home in Deephaven. However, shortly after getting approved for benefits, they moved to Florida. They remained in that state for at least 28 months, first on their $1.2 million yacht, and then moving to a house, officials said. They collected welfare from Florida, as well as Minnesota during that time, which people are prohibited from receiving simultaneously.
“I’ve never ridden on a yacht that nice, and I bet most of us haven’t, but they were living on it while they were collecting public assistance,” Freeman said. “[Colin Chisholm] created all sorts of false companies, claimed he was a Scottish heir. It’s outrageous.”
Prosecutors will ask that the judge be allowed to impose a longer sentence than the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines call for because the Chisholms committed a major economic offense.