MINNEAPOLIS - Felony charges were filed Friday against a sometime Minnesota couple for an egregious case of alleged welfare fraud. The accused are Colin Chisholm III, 62, and Andrea Chisholm, 54.
The couple is charged with bilking Minnesota public assistance programs for more than $165,000 between January 2005 and March 2012. When the Chisholms first applied for welfare, according to Freeman, they claimed to be living at 3202 Harriet Avenue South in Minneapolis. Actually, they were living on a $1.4 million yacht in Florida.
"These rich folks ripped off the system," said Freeman. "I will assure you that this office is going to do every darn thing we can do to make sure these people do hard time."
The presumptive sentence for the crime upon conviction, for defendants with no prior criminal records, is probation. However, Freeman was adamant that he will seek an upward departure from sentencing guidelines.
The Chisholm's are not under arrest. Freeman said he believes they are out of the United States "someplace warm." There has been a warrant out for their arrest for six weeks, according to Freeman.
Freeman said his office is cooperating with Florida authorities. The Chisholms also allegedly took money illegally from Florida welfare programs. Freeman said they listed a Connecticut address at that time, which turned out to be a UPS store.
"Mr. Chisholm, in particular, is a con man of the first order," said Freeman. "He created all sorts of false companies. He claimed he was a Scottish heir ('Lord' Chisholm). 'Lady' Chisholm participated in these frauds and it is outrageous."
A picture of the couple on a pedigree dog website refers to them as "Colin and Lady Chisholm". Freeman said his investigators even attended pedigree dog shows hoping, in vain, to spot and arrest the couple.
"Basically, he is a flim-flam man," said Freeman, about the source of the Chisholm's 'wealth.' "Somehow he conned a bunch of people to put in all sorts of money. We could trace the bank accounts and over a million dollars when through the bank accounts."