Colin Chisholm, the Deephaven businessman charged with welfare fraud, discharged his attorney Friday.
In a short court hearing, Chisholm, dressed in an orange jail suit, spoke softly when asked questions by Hennepin County District Judge Lois Conroy. Chisholm didn’t give a reason why he no longer wanted Tom Kelly as his attorney. Kelly had been representing him for free.
Earlier this month, Kelly had filed a motion to withdraw as Chisholm’s attorney because of a conflict. He wouldn’t elaborate, but the judge granted his motion. Chisholm will be appointed a public defender.
Chisholm also wanted to make a statement to the judge to address what he called false information in media reports about his case. Conroy advised him to wait until he meets with his public defender. His next court appearance will be July 7.
Andrea Chisholm, Colin’s wife, also has been charged with welfare fraud. Earlier this month, the couple also was charged with felony theft by swindle. The county attorney’s office said the facts and circumstances of the case merited the additional charges.
Andrea Chisholm wasn’t in court Friday. Both remain in jail in lieu of $300,000 bail each. Kelly has said the couple is destitute and can’t afford bail.
They were arrested in March after fleeing Minnesota for the Bahamas and charged with making $167,420 in fraudulent medical and food-stamp claims in Florida and Minnesota from 2005 to 2012. At times, they rented a $1.6 million home on Lake Minnetonka and owned a yacht.
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 finally 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.
Colleagues and friends helped police track down the couple in the Bahamas. They had disappeared after abandoning their home, leaving nine Cavalier King Charles spaniels with friends and withdrawing their 7-year-old son from private school in midsemester. At last report, the boy was being cared for by relatives.