Couple wanted for MN welfare fraud busted in Florida

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A couple who allegedly lived a lavish lifestyle on the backs of Minnesota taxpayers is behind bars in Florida after re-entering the country from the Bahamas.

A spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office says Colin Chisholm III and his wife Andrea were arrested after arriving in Ft. Lauderdale Monday night. The couple made their first appearance in Broward County Court Tuesday and are being held without bond. The Chisholms are expected to make an appearance in extradition court Wednesday, where they will have an opportunity to say whether they will willingly return to Minnesota or fight extradition.

The arrest brings to a close an exhaustive search by investigators, starting with the couple's home in Deephaven and expanding to locations across the United States and the Bahamas. The Minnesota Violent Crime Task Force, which includes the FBI, also helped with the search and was able to contact the Miami FBI office and other federal agencies last week.

Miami agents then informed every Florida port to watch for the Chisholms.

On Monday the couple was contacted by police in Freeport, Grand Bahama and told their visas had expired. The police escorted the couple, their son and dog onto a ship bound for Ft. Lauderdale. When the Chisholms 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.

Hennepin County prosecutors charged both Colin and Andrea Chisholm with one count of wrongfully obtaining public assistance over $35,000 after they illegally received more than $165,000 from various government programs designed to help the poor. During the period between 2005 and 2012, while receiving benefits, the couple owned a luxury yacht and controlled bank accounts through which millions of dollars flowed.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has asked that the couple be extradited back to Minneapolis to stand trial on the charges.


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