Couple in U.S. lived on yacht, collected welfare: prosecutor

Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:47pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A couple who collected food stamps and other public assistance from Minnesota while living on a yacht in Florida were being sought on fraud charges, prosecutors said on Friday.

Colin Chisholm III and his wife, Andrea Chisholm, accepted more than $165,000 in public assistance between 2005 and 2012 before benefits were terminated, according to prosecutor Mike Freeman in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Charges against Colin Chisholm were filed in February but they were kept sealed while police searched for the couple, Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for Freeman, said on Friday. "They know by now we are looking for them."

The Chisholms are each charged with a felony count of wrongfully obtaining public assistance in excess of $35,000, the highest threshold under Minnesota law. Andrea Chisholm was charged on Thursday.

They bought a $1.2 million yacht, The Andrea Aras, in 2005 shortly after applying for welfare benefits in Minnesota, according to complaints against them. They have been accused of living on the yacht in the area of Palm Beach, Florida, for 28 months while lying about living in Minnesota.

Colin Chisholm was the chief executive officer of a satellite television and broadband services company, his wife bred and sold championship dogs, and over a seven-year period the couple deposited more than $2.6 million in bank accounts they did not report on applications for welfare benefits, according to the complaint.

They have lived in luxury homes in suburban Minneapolis, driven a $30,000 Lexus and also collected welfare benefits in Florida, the complaint said.

(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Sharon Bernstein)

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Comments (11)
WildBillWB wrote:
Wow better check the other states. They could have paid for that yacht in a year if they hit all fifty.

Mar 22, 2014 4:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
wooddogr wrote:
Fox News is right, every single one of the “Takers” is a criminal. This is just more undeniable proof. I hope this doesn’t take attention away from the most important issues like Benghazi and Obama being both a Dictator and a Whimp.

Mar 23, 2014 2:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ImaOjibwa wrote:
Dear Heads of State assistance programs,
I was so fortunate to have had assistance with food benefits during a two month period I had a tumar removed and had to take leave from my job which I had worked only 8 months. I managed to get the doctor to release me 1 month early and since I didn’t need the last month of food benefits, I phoned in the income change and even though I explained I didn’t need the last month of food benefits(Oregon gives three months worth at a given day each month) I was instructed to keep them anyway.WTF? Why is that happening? When I was 17 (I’m now 53)a friend was issued food stamps and was actually visited by a worker to see that her food was separate from others living in the home. Why did that stop? Why can’t the government afford to budget enough workers vs clients to go out and ensure the application information given them was not falsified if they can afford to give me 150.00 food benefits I don’t need? Do you realize people are not always truthful if they know the system will work in their benefit? Why not take 1 of ten recipients and train them as day care providers which would allow the other nine recipients at least 6 hours to work, look for work, attend programs to help obtain work, etc.? Of coarse, you would need to check up on people so you could catch abusers of the system, but don’t you put a lot of emphasis on the priority of ensuring the well being of children, the elderly /disabled and homless anyway? Maybe The money I tried to return but was told to keep as it was in the system on my account could have been redirected there. I know 4 people that abuse the system and are able bodied and capable of work but just don’t.They buy extravagant food items and sell there benefits for half the value and do as they please. Yes I turned one in but after a less than 3 month period of penalty, right back on the they went, And since I went to the office they were receiving benefits from Or and Wa it was hardly punishment for them since one state kept paying so they could lay on their ass all day while no one came over or asked this person who drives uninsured unlicensed to visit the office with work search records or Grocery store receipts with their card info and Proper Id at purchase point be verified. It may not catch everyone, but it will catch more than you do now,and the more these lowlifes that make the truly needy wait in line behind their lazy asses have to work at their craft the less there will be. Cause they don’t need them anyway and they sure as hell won’t work to get them. Getting up early, being punctual, showing responsibility and general duties are not what they sign up for and wouldn’t most the time. They’re there cause the morans are smarter than you.and the free food with benefits. THIS IN NO WAY SUGGESTS I DON’T SUPPORT PROGRAMS FOR THOSE IN NEED. THEY REQUIRE OUR HELP. IT HAPPENED TO ME AND I HAVE ALWAYS MAINTAINED EMPLOYMENT. I actually think if we can only feed the legitimate people who are in need by the system in place with no options like I suggested then by God feed them all even the criminals who abuse the system. That way there’s no one going hungry. Or is there? Any body have other ways to strengthen policies? Turning someone in didn’t do any good. Just sayin…

Mar 24, 2014 3:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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