Yacht couple accused in welfare fraud is arrested in Florida

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 01, 2014 3:44 PM

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Minnesota couple, who went on the run after being accused of claiming welfare benefits while living on a million-dollar yacht, has been arrested in Florida, authorities said on Tuesday.

Colin Chisholm III and his wife, Andrea, allegedly received more than $165,000 in food stamps and other public assistance over a seven-year period, a Minnesota prosecutor said.

The couple was arrested near Port Everglades, Florida, said Detective DeAnna Greenlaw, a spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. No other details about the arrest were immediately available.

Last month, a Minnesota prosecutor announced that the Chisholms were each charged with a felony count of wrongfully obtaining public assistance in excess of $35,000. The charges were originally filed in February but sealed while police searched for the couple.

In April 2005, the couple purchased a $1.2 million yacht, The Andrea Aras, shortly after applying for welfare benefits in Minnesota, according to criminal complaints.

For 28 months, the Chisholms were living on the yacht near Palm Beach, Florida, while claiming they lived in Minnesota, the complaints say.

According to the complaints, Colin Chisholm was chief executive officer of a satellite television and broadband services company and his wife was a breeder of pedigree dogs.

Between 2005 and 2012, the couple allegedly deposited in bank accounts more than $2.6 million that was not reported on applications for welfare benefits, the complaints said.

The couple has luxury homes in suburban Minneapolis, a $30,000 Lexus and also collected welfare benefits in Florida, according to the complaints.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray; editing by Gunna Dickson)