Lake Minnetonka millionaire Colin Chisholm, who has already done time for welfare fraud, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to four more years in prison for stealing more than $2 million from investors in a phony TV network start-up.
Chisholm, 65, pleaded guilty in January to one count of mail fraud. He will have to repay the money he took from dozens of people.
Chisholm "ripped off people with a long trail of lies about himself and his fraudulent investments," said state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.
According to the indictment and other court documents, Chisholm had solicited funds since 2004 from investors using the Caribbean Television Network Inc. (TCN), a company purportedly formed to broadcast satellite TV throughout the Caribbean.
As part of the solicitation, he told potential investors that TCN would serve as a network for a group of cable TV channels, allowing advertisers to purchase time on multiple channels via a single buy.
Throughout the scheme, Chisholm told investors that TCN was on the verge of securing between $20 million and $100 million in funding to begin broadcasting, and that their investment would be used as interim financing for the network.
He lied to investors about his personal background, telling some that he was the grandson of Hugh J. Chisholm Jr., and the son of William Chisholm, of the Oxford Paper Company — giving the false impression that he came from considerable family wealth.
According to court documents, Chisholm also failed to disclose his own misuse of investor funds, including those he used for personal expenses — such as the purchase of a yacht, fitness and wellness costs and rent for his home on Lake Minnetonka — and to satisfy a $255,500.50 settlement with Verizon.
In 2015, he was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for falsely receiving more than $160,000 in welfare benefits.
Chisholm and his wife were living in a $1.6 million mansion in Deephaven and owned a $1 million yacht during part of the time they were illegally receiving welfare and other benefits in Minnesota and Florida from 2005 to 2012.