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Yacht owner pleads guilty to welfare fraud in Minnesota

A man with a $1.4 million yacht who said he was Scottish royalty has pleaded guilty to welfare fraud.

His wife admitted in August to fraudulently receiving welfare and other benefits from the state of Minnesota.

Prosecutors told CBS Minnesota that Colin and Andrea Chisholm accepted $167,000 in Minnesota welfare and other benefits while living on a million-dollar yacht and, later, in a Deephaven, Minn., mansion.

The Chisholms were leading a luxurious lifestyle and, at the same time, collecting benefits meant for the poor, including welfare and food stamps.

“This is offensive,” Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman told the network. “This is a rich guy living like a king living on a $1.4 million yacht and ripping off the people.”

Chisholm also collected welfare benefits in Florida and admitted that he had not paid federal taxes for years. It’s not clear whether Florida or the federal government will prosecute him.

Chisholm has not been charged with any crime in connection with his now defunct company, The Caribbean Television Network. Court documents allege that the company was a sham and that Chisholm lied to investors.

“Clearly, he has been conning people for a long time,” Freeman said.

The plea deal announced Monday is expected to result in a 21-month sentence for Chisholm. If a judge agrees in January to that sentence, Chisholm could be out of prison in as little as a year. That’s because he would get credit for time served.

The Chisholms will have to pay restitution to the state of Minnesota. Prosecutors say he and his wife will have to pay the full $167,000. Chisholm’s attorneys say the amount of restitution should be a lot less.

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