|By David Chanen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
At least, that's what they led benefit workers to believe. In reality, authorities say, the Chisholms were living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
On public assistance forms they filled out yearly, they forgot to mention their
Oh, and the Chisholms also had about
"These were rich folks ripping off the system," said Freeman, whose tone moved from humor to anger during Friday's news conference. "I will make sure they do hard time."
That's if the police can find them. The Chisholms have been on the lam for six weeks, and Freeman hinted that they may be out of state and someplace warm.
The Chisholms were cut off at one point, but managed to get back into the system, Freeman said.
He referred to the couple as "Lord and
Just weeks after applying for their first welfare payment,
Her mother still owns that home. Nobody was home to comment Friday.
State paid for pregnancy bills
In 2005, the
They then engaged in a long legal battle to get their yacht back. At one point,
Two days before their son was born in 2007, the Chisholms told
While the Chisholms consistently reported no income or job employment when they reapplied for welfare, they continued to operate businesses or start up new ones. When trying to woo investors to a satellite-delivered digital television network based in
"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."
By 2009, the Chisholms were living in
'How do you do this?'
An arrest warrant has been issued for the Chisholms, who vacated their
If they are found and convicted, the presumptive sentence for their felony fraud charge is probation. The maximum sentence would be 20 years in prison and a
"I can't imagine a judge in this district allowing the Lord and Lady to get probation," Freeman said.
He called the Chisholms' alleged systematic abuse of government programs designed to help the poor "beyond real." He said he couldn't say why they chose to go down such a path and if they might have taken advantage of flaws in the system that should be corrected.
"Imagine people like us," he said. "How do you do this?"
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