Colin Chisholm, who lived the life of a Lake Minnetonka millionaire with his wife while collecting welfare benefits, was sentenced Monday to nearly two years.
Chisholm, 63, and his wife, Andrea, collected more than $167,000 in fraudulent medical and food-stamp claims over seven years. In November, Chisholm agreed to a 21-month prison sentence and admitted committing a major economic crime.
"This is a fitting end to a crime that never should have occurred," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said after the sentencing. "We are pleased with the sentence and believe it is one of the longest ever given in the state of Minnesota for welfare fraud."
Colin Chisholm said little as Judge Lois Conroy handed down the sentence. His wife was not in the courtroom.
The presumptive sentence would have been probation and no prison time, according to state guidelines. But the prosecution argued that the dollar amount of the theft, the length of time over which it occurred and the frequency of the crimes called for an upward departure.
Andrea Chisholm, 54, pleaded guilty in August and has finished her jail sentence. Freeman said she was less culpable than her husband, who was forging signatures on documents.
The couple were living in a $1.6 million mansion in Deephaven on Lake Minnetonka and owned a million-dollar yacht during part of the time they were illegally receiving welfare and other benefits in Minnesota and Florida from 2005 to 2012.
They were arrested in March after fleeing Minnesota for the Bahamas. The couple, who once referred to themselves as Scottish nobility, "Lord and Lady Chisholm," claimed to have $97 million in assets and tried to start a satellite television network in the Caribbean.
In March 2012, the Chisholms' benefits were cut off when they couldn't explain how they were able to pay their rent and personal expenses with no income.
The couple had more than $3 million in bank accounts while they were receiving welfare payments, authorities said.
The county has said that it will seek restitution for the money Chisholm obtained via fraud.