MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Deephaven, Minn. couple accused of welfare fraud while living on a $1.2 million yacht now faces accusations of trying to flee the country.
Colin and Andrea Chisolm were arrested in Florida earlier this month as they reentered the country from the Bahamas. They are charged with collecting more than $160,000 in welfare payments. That’s while living in a lakefront home in Deephaven and owning the yacht.
On Thursday, the couple appeared in Hennepin County Court wearing light blue jump suits.
Prosecutors say they have strong evidence the couple was plotting their flight from prosecution during the two weeks after they were charged and arrest warrants were issued for them.
However, the couple’s defense attorney argued Colin was trying to take care of business he had in the Bahamas and then got sick.
The couple allegedly knew they were under investigation when in December the couple abruptly fled their rented 5,000 square foot Deephaven lake home without telling their landlord. They pulled their 7-year-old out of school, abandoned Andrea’s dog breeding business and left behind seven to nine spaniel puppies for neighbors to care for.
When they left, they told neighbors they were going to Montana to care for a sick relative. In reality, they went to the Bahamas and after they were charged in March, Colin Chisolm allegedly tried to make arrangements for them to be smuggled to the Turks and Caicos, which does not have an extradition treaty with the US.
Colin was represented in court by well-known Twin Cities defense attorney Tom Kelly, who declined to comment. Kelly said he was taking the case without being paid.
Andrea is asking taxpayers to pay for her defense and for now has a public defender. But prosecutors argued they don’t believe she is broke and produced this 2009 financial statement in which they have Scottish royal titles and declared total assets of $97 million.
After the court hearing, Colin’s family members, including his brother Christopher, refused to comment
The issue of whether Andrea will get a public defender will be taken up at a hearing Friday.
The judge did raise Colin’s bail to $300,000 — agreeing he is a flight risk.
Defense attorneys are expected to argue Friday for their bails to be reduced and they be released pending the outcome of the court proceedings.