Second Guilty Plea In Chisholm Welfare Fraud Case
They were once owners of an award-winning dog breeding business, a Caribbean television network and a trove of assets valued at up to $97 million. Now, the welfare fraud saga of Lake Minnetonka couple Colin and Andrea Chisholm is nearly over with a second guilty plea in the case Monday afternoon.
A little more than three months after his wife pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison for her role in the case, Colin Chisholm entered a guilty plea of his own for wrongfully obtaining public assistance Monday in Hennepin County District Court. Chisholm received a 21-month prison sentence.
The Chisholms, who once portrayed themselves as Scottish royalty, were charged earlier this year with receiving more than $167,000 in welfare payments, medical assistance and other public benefits when they did not qualify. In fact, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the couple lived on a million-dollar yacht in Florida and also rented a $1.6 million home on Lake Minnetonka.
Andrea Chisholm, 54, received a one year and one day prison sentence after she pleaded guilty on Aug. 19. At the time, Freeman called Colin Chisholm, 62, “a bigger player in defrauding the public.”
During her hearing, Andrea Chisholm repeatedly said she signed various welfare benefits forms that her husband filled out. She admitted to knowing the information on the forms was false, that Colin Chisholm was self-employed and had money coming into bank accounts from his business and that they collected health benefits while living on a yacht in Florida.
The couple was arrested in Florida in March after being tracked down in the Bahamas. Authorities said they portrayed themselves to neighbors and business associates as Scottish royalty while presenting an image of “paupers” to aid workers.
The fraudulent medical and food stamp claims were made in both Minnesota and Florida from 2005 to 2012, according to the Star Tribune. During that time, the newspaper reported, the couple had several million dollars in bank accounts, owned a $1.2 million yacht and ran a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pedigree breeding business.
Colin Chisholm also portrayed himself as a high-level broadcasting executive. Shortly after the couple’s arrest, the Star Tribune reported that Medica had found that part of the $60,000 in medical claims it paid out went for massages at The Marsh wellness center and spa in Minnetonka.