MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man who claimed to be Scottish royalty has pleaded guilty to fraudulently receiving welfare and other benefits from the state.
His wife already admitted to the fraud in August.
Prosecutors say Colin and Andrea Chisholm accepted $167,000 dollars in Minnesota welfare and other benefits, while they were living on a million-dollar yacht and, later, in a Deephaven mansion.
When Andrea Chisholm pleaded guilty, she was sentenced to one year behind bars.
The plea deal announced Monday is expected to result in a 21-month sentence for Colin Chisholm.
Chisholm, who told people he was a Scottish Lord, appeared in court Monday in an orange jail jumpsuit.
From the start, it was the brazenness of the crime that was shocking: The Chisholms were leading a luxurious lifestyle and, at the same time, collecting benefits meant for the poor, including welfare and food stamps.
“This is offensive,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “This is a rich guy living like a king living on a $1.4 million yacht and ripping off the people.”
Colin Chisholm admitted his guilt on Monday.
“I received benefits from Hennepin County that I was not entitled to, and I take full responsibility for that,” he said.
Chisholm has not been charged with any crime in connection with his now defunct company, The Caribbean Television Network.
Court documents say the company was a sham and that Chisholm lied to investors.
“Clearly, he has been conning people for a long time,” Freeman said.
New court documents reveal Chisholm’s deceptions were widespread.
He told potential investors he had produced “Gilligan’s Island” and 1970s police drama “The Streets of San Francisco.”
He also told associates he had a degree from Harvard Medical School. In fact, he holds a two-year degree in funeral home management.
If a judge agrees in January to the 21-month sentence, Chisholm could be out in as little as a year. That’s because he would get credit for time served.
Chisholm also collected welfare benefits in Florida and admitted to not paying federal taxes for years.
It’s not clear if Florida or the federal government will prosecute him.
The Chisholms will have to pay restitution to the state of Minnesota.
Prosecutors say he and his wife will have to pay the full $167,000. His defense attorneys say the amount of restitution should be a lot less.
A court hearing on restitution will happen at a later date.