Updated: 08/19/2014 5:48 PM
Created: 08/19/2014 12:00 PM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
Andrea Chisholm, the Deephaven woman accused of collecting state financial assistance with her husband while living on a yacht in Florida, pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
She pleaded guilty to a single count of aiding and abetting wrongfully obtaining public assistance and was immediately sentenced to a year and a day in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.
Freeman had referred to the pair as "Lord and Lady Chisholm."
Sixty-two-year-old Colin Chisholm III and 54-year-old Andrea Chisholm were arrested in March after they were found in the Bahamas. The couple had been charged earlier in the month but had disappeared.
The pair is accused of collecting $167,420 in Minnesota public assistance while living on an 83-foot yacht in Florida. Officials say they claimed to be living with Andrea's mother at her home in South Minneapolis.
Prosecutors also accuse the couple of collecting welfare money in Florida and say they once lived at a Connecticut address that turned out to be a UPS store.
A Medica investigation tipped off county officials to the alleged fraud.
Andrea Chisholm appeared in Hennepin County District Court at 3 p.m. “I signed documents that had inaccurate information that at the time I knew was inaccurate,” Chisholm told the court. “I received over $60,000 in fraudulent benefits.”
A charge of theft by swindle against her was dropped as part of the agreement. As part of the agreement, Andrea Chisholm admitted she committed a major economic offense. As a result, instead of being sentenced to probation, the admission allowed for an upward departure in her sentence to prison time.
Hennepin County Attorney Lois Conroy ordered her to pay restitution of $167,420.30, although Chisholm said she will be fighting that figure in a future hearing.
“It’s appropriate that Andrea Chisholm spend time behind bars for cheating the public of welfare dollars,” Freeman said. “Her husband’s case remains open as it appears he was a bigger player in defrauding the public as we heard in Andrea’s testimony today.”
Colin Chisholm is still moving forward with his trial, according to a spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office. His next court appearance is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 10.