All might have been forgiven had Colin honored his rent agreement. Instead, he skipped court. A second warrant was issued for his arrest — along with a bail bond for $20,000.

It would be another year before the matter was resolved. All told, Colin would end up $42,029 in the hole.

By then, the Chisholms had packed up their things and moved on. They already had their eyes on a new source of revenue: the taxpayers of Minnesota.


Andrea and Colin Chisholm, as pictured in their March 31 booking photos shortly after being arrested at Port Everglades.
Broward Sheriff's Office
Andrea and Colin Chisholm, as pictured in their March 31 booking photos shortly after being arrested at Port Everglades.
The Chisholms during happier times in Minnetonka, Minnesota, circa 2013.
Courtesy photo
The Chisholms during happier times in Minnetonka, Minnesota, circa 2013.

Coast Guard officers stormed the 83-foot yacht, careful not to damage the solid-mahogany dining table that cost $15,000 and ran 15 feet long. Just off Pompano Beach, they searched all three bedrooms, looking for the Lord and Lady of the high seas, but came up empty.

Colin had spent much of his life pursuing the boat himself. In 2004, he stumbled upon the advertisement for the $1.4 million Wishing Star in Stuart, Florida, formerly named the Aras when it was owned by one of his distant relatives. The yacht was the ultimate symbol of wealth; designed by Trumpy, it had all the cachet of the New York real estate tycoon with whom it shared the name. After taking ownership of Wishing Star, Colin rechristened it the Andrea Aras. He used it as a corporate headquarters for his company, the Caribbean Network (TCN), and it was likely the first major purchase he made with investors' money.

For almost a year, he was able to stay afloat. Colin projected an air of confidence to potential investors without saying a word. He took church groups out on the high seas, and by the time they returned to shore, the parishioners would be ready to invest in any one of Colin's companies.

"They wanted to have a positive image of success and profitability, even though the company had yet to earn any money," says Thomas Kelly, Colin's attorney.

But it was all an illusion. Colin had agreed to pay $1.2 million for the yacht, dropping $220,000 up front. True to form, he stopped making monthly payments soon after.

Figuring they were in danger of having the yacht repossessed and lacking the $157,000 lump sum payment that was due, the Chisholms took the boat north to Savannah, where they spent the summer entertaining important guests, like the mother of then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"They were hiding out," recalls the captain who piloted them there.

The Chisholms sailed back to Florida thinking the heat was off. A couple of months later, Colin called another captain — his newest hire — in a panic.

"The Andrea Aras has been stolen from us!" he blurted.

Of course, the captain had no way of knowing about the financing situation, and he liked his new employers quite a bit. Just a week earlier, Colin had offered him $84,000 a year to pilot what was probably the nicest boat the veteran mariner had ever laid eyes on.

So the captain dialed some buddies, who helped him track the Andrea Aras to outside of Pompano Beach.

"The federal marshals were onboard and told us we better get out of the way," he recalls. "I looked pretty stupid at that point in the game."


Medica Insurance agents scoured the paperwork with suspicion. More than $60,000 in public assistance health claims had been frittered away on massages and other services at the Marsh, a wellness center and spa in Minnetonka. Worse yet, the recipients of this largesse were a couple who lived in a historic lakeside mansion valued at $1.6 million.

Something clearly didn't add up. The case fell into the laps of Amanda Lange and Michael O'Hara, two veteran Hennepin County fraud investigators. Combined, they brought more than 50 years' worth of experience to the table. And in 2013, they came to the same conclusion: The Chisholms had been shameless with the government cheese. The scheme, as the investigators would later allege, had been concocted in 2004 and would require lying about their income and home address for eight years.

When first filing for welfare, the Chis­holms claimed residency in Andrea's mother's home in south Minneapolis — a diverse and middle-class part of the city — but failed to provide any proof of income, an obvious red flag. Hennepin County wisely denied the application, but the state went ahead and approved it without a second glance.

Throughout their time in Florida, the Chis­holms had been sucking at Minnesota's teat. On February 1, 2007, when Andrea gave birth to Colin Jr. in Palm Beach, the entire pregnancy and more than two years of expenses were covered by UCare, the state health-care provider. The total cost to Minnesota taxpayers: $22,136.

Although the Chisholms also collected welfare benefits from Florida, the Sunshine State's Department of Financial Services won't provide any details about its ongoing investigation. The case was referred to it by the Hennepin County authorities, but it has yet to be passed along to the State Attorney's Office.

Returning to Minnesota in April 2007, the Chisholms became even more brazen and successfully applied for food stamps. Over the next five years, the couple signed and submitted 13 forms for benefits. All told, they reaped $167,420 in free services from the state.

In early 2012, growing suspicious, the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department asked the Chisholms to produce any and all personal and corporate financial filings. In a response letter, Colin maintained that he was indeed indigent.

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linettekxq213

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