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While the Chisholms consistently reported no income or job employment when they reapplied for welfare, they continued to operate businesses or start up new ones. When trying to woo investors to a satellite-delivered digital television network based in Miami, Colin Chisholm claimed to have assets totaling more than $97 million, documents say.
“It’s outrageous,” Freeman said. “You hear of people getting public assistance when they’re having a hard time in their lives and getting it back together. And then you see this.”
By 2009, the Chisholms were living in Deephaven with Andrea’s elderly grandmother, for whom Andrea had the power of attorney. The couple was funneling thousands of dollars from businesses that they hid from authorities through the grandmother’s account, the documents said. They paid their monthly $2,750 rent in cash.
In March 2012, their benefits were finally cut off when they couldn’t explain how they were able to pay rent and personal expenses with no income.
‘How do you do this?’
An arrest warrant has been issued for the Chisholms, who vacated their Deephaven home with no notice to the landlord and withdrew their son from school.
If they are found and convicted, the presumptive sentence for their felony fraud charge is probation. The maximum sentence would be 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
“I can’t imagine a judge in this district allowing the Lord and Lady to get probation,” Freeman said.
He called the Chisholms’ alleged systematic abuse of government programs designed to help the poor “beyond real.” He said he couldn’t say why they chose to go down such a path and if they might have taken advantage of flaws in the system that should be corrected.
“Imagine people like us,” he said. “How do you do this?”
David Chanen • 612-673-4465