Colin A.J. Chisholm and his wife, Andrea, are in jail in Minnesota, but for years they lived the life of the rich and famous, buying an 83-foot Trumpy motoryacht and living in luxury homes in Minnesota and Florida.
Fraud investigators eventually caught up with the Chisholms and accused the couple of collecting $167,420 in public assistance from Minnesota and receiving welfare benefits in Florida as well.
The Chisholms, who said they were Scottish nobility — Lord and Lady Chisholm — were extradited March 31 from the Bahamas, where they had been hiding for more than a month after investigators in Minnesota launched an intensive manhunt for them, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s office.
“Lord and Lady Chisholm III are fraudsters of the first degree,” said Hennepin County state’s attorney Mike Freeman, who spoke at a press conference in Minnesota 10 days before their arrest.
His office has charged them with wrongfully obtaining more than $35,000 in public assistance, a felony. A story in the June issue of Soundings about the Chisholms also reported that Freeman wants to see the couple do “hard time.”
The Chisholms are in the Hennepin County Jail on $300,000 bond apiece, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis said in a report that noted a judge kept their bond at that figure after an April 29 hearing. Their next scheduled court appearance is June 9. Hennepin County prosecutors are continuing their investigation.
A complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court tells a tale of a couple who — while receiving medical, food stamp and cash welfare assistance from Minnesota and Florida — are alleged to have owned, managed, controlled or used bank accounts in which $2.63 million was deposited from January 2005 through April 2012.
Colin Chisholm, 62, is listed on a company website as chairman, president and CEO of TCN Networks, a Miami-based company purporting to provide satellite TV and broadband service to the Caribbean, although the website offers no information about how or where those services can be purchased.
In a 2006 deposition Chisholm said the company had 28 to 30 shareholders and that five of them had invested more than $2.25 million in the company, most of it in 2006. Andrea, 54, owned a kennel that bred and sold pedigree puppies, including the winner of a Westminster Kennel Club show.
The WCCO report said prosecutors say in court documents that the Chisholms were swindling investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars through sham broadcasting companies that included The Caribbean Network.
The Minnesota complaint alleges that the Chisholms did not truthfully disclose their assets when applying for public assistance from Minnesota and Florida and that for a time they were on the welfare rolls of both states simultaneously.