One of the original stars of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series has been named in a federal indictment and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Austin St. John – who was born Jason Lawrence Geiger – played the Red Ranger Jason through some 80 episodes of Power Rangers, as well as in the first Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers movie. He also made assorted appearances in subsequent Power Rangers shows and movies. On Wednesday, St. John’s name appeared in an indictment that alleges a conspiracy involving 19 people designed to “to defraud lenders and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).”
Here is more from the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas:
The defendants, led by Michael Hill and Andrew Moran, are alleged to have executed a scheme to defraud lenders and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Hill is alleged to have recruited co-conspirators to use an existing business or create a business to submit applications to obtain PPP funding. Once enlisted, Moran is alleged to have assisted his co-conspirators with the application paperwork, including fabricating supporting documentation and submitting the application through the online portals. On the applications, the defendants are alleged to have misrepresented material information such as the true nature of their business, the number of employees, and the amount of payroll. Based on these material misrepresentations, the SBA and other financial institutions approved and issued loans to the defendants. Once in receipt of the fraudulently obtained funds, the defendants did not use the money as intended, such as to pay employee salaries, cover fixed debt or utility payments, or continue health care benefits for employees. Instead, the defendants typically paid Hill and Moran, transferred money to their personal accounts, and spent the funds on various personal purchases.
The government alleges that the defendants obtained 16 loans that were meant to support small businesses during the pandemic; combined the loans were worth “at least $3.5 million.” If St. John and the other defendants are convicted, they each could receive up to 20 years in federal prison.
Also worth noting: The press release lists St. John’s name as “Jason Lawrence Geiger, a/k/a Austin St. John a/k/a the Red Power Ranger, 47, of McKinney.” Yes, they actually did refer to him as the Red Power Ranger.
In recent years, St. John has become a fixture on the convention circuit. He was scheduled to appear at the Des Moines Comic-Con this weekend, prior to the announcement of this indictment. Clearly, it is not morphin’ time anymore.