The story the duo told benefit workers to reel in that money is more than a little different than the life they were actually leading.
In public assistance paperwork filled out between 2004 and 2012, they claimed they had to live with Andrea Chisholm’s mom in Minneapolis. They said they had no jobs, no cars and, at one point, just $80 cash to their names, the criminal complaint said.
Meanwhile, Colin Chisholm was telling potential investors in TCN Networks, a satellite television company he owned, that he had assets totaling $97 million.
“He’s a con artist,” said Virginia Mance Chisholm of North Carolina, who was married to him for more than 20 years and helped investigators in Minnesota build their case. “This is what he did for a living.”
In 2004, at same time the Chisholms were beginning to apply for benefits in Minnesota, the couple were also negotiating the purchase of $1.2 million, Fort Lauderdale-based 1963 yacht called the “Wishing Star.”
Colin Chisholm told the yacht’s owner, Richard Ross of Stuart, that he controlled about $30 million in network television advertising on CNBC. Ross and the Chisholms agreed to a down payment of $220,000, monthly payments of $7,500 and a lump sum payment of $157,000, due in March 2005.
The Chisholms took over the yacht in January 2005. They renamed it the “Andrea Aras” and docked it at the luxury marina at Turnberry Isle in Aventura.
“It’s outrageous,” Freeman said. “You hear of people getting public assistance when they’re having a hard time in their lives and getting it back together. And then you see this.”
For a few months, the couple made their monthly payments. Then they stopped and the Coast Guard seized the yacht — or, as Andrea Chisholm later claimed to a lawyer, “stole” it.
By that time, the royal couple were renting a waterfront home in Lighthouse Point.