Minnesota millionaire Colin Chisholm III, 62, will serve 21 months in prison after being convicted of welfare fraud. Chisholm, who owns a yacht and several luxury homes, was found guilty of faking income documents and illegally taking more than $167,000 in medical and food stamp benefits over a seven-year span.
“He lived like a king and stole like a pauper,” prosecuting attorney Mike Freeman told the Star Tribune. “He was living on a yacht and entertaining royalty. All the while he was cheating the taxpayers and committing other wrongdoings, many of which didn’t occur here.”
State guidelines call for probation for a first time welfare fraud offender, but Chisholm’s fraud was so rampant and deceitful that prosecutors tacked on jail time.
“What they did was abominable, stealing from the government and the taxpayers while living a luxurious lifestyle,” Freeman said.
Shortly after applying for welfare assistance in 2005, Chisholm bought a $1.5 million yacht and launched a Caribbean satellite television company. He owns two upscale homes in Minneapolis. Chisholm would often spend months at a time cruising the Caribbean on his yacht only to dock and settle into yet another luxury home on the Florida coast.
In addition to his prison sentence, Chisholm was ordered to repay the full $167,000 in benefits he swindled over the years.
Chisholm’s wife, Andrea Chisholm, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in August and has already finished her prison sentence. Freeman says Andrea’s short prison sentence reflects her relatively light involvement in the scheme.
“It was his scheme,” Freeman said. “This is a con worthy of ‘The Sting.’”