Minn. Couple Accused of Collecting Welfare while Yachting in Fla. Arrested

Updated: 12/18/2015 1:22 PM
Created: 04/01/2014 2:01 PM
Megan Stewart

The Minnesota couple that fraud investigators say lived extravagantly off undeserved welfare dollars has been arrested near Ft. Lauderdale.

Colin Chisholm III, 62, and his wife Andrea, 54, of Deephaven made their first appearance in court Tuesday. They are expected to make an appearance in extradite court Wednesday, where the couple will say if they will willingly return to Minnesota.

The couple was approached by authorities in the Bahamas on Monday and told their visas had expired, authorities said. Police escorted the couple, their son and dog onto a ship bound for Ft. Lauderdale. When they landed in Port Everglades, they were arrested and taken to the Broward County Jail.

The Chisholms’ son and dog were turned over to other family members, authorities said.

The pair was charged earlier this month with felony welfare fraud, accused of collecting welfare benefits.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman calls them "Lord and Lady Chisholm." He says they received $167,420 in Minnesota public assistance while living on an 83-foot yacht in Florida.

They claimed to be living with Andrea's mother at her home in South Minneapolis.

The criminal complaint alleges the couple collected the money between 2005 and 2012. A Medica investigation tipped off county officials to the alleged welfare fraud.

Freeman also claims the couple collected welfare money in Florida while living there. He says they claimed they once lived at a Connecticut address that turned out to be a UPS store. Freeman says Colin Chisholm created false companies with bank accounts of more than a million dollars, and even said he was a Scottish heir.

The couple is now in custody.

If convicted, they may be eligible for probation, but Freeman says he will seek jail time.

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