The 90’s actor who played the OG Red Power Ranger faces 20 years in prison for defrauding the United States. Austin St. John, whose birth name is Jason Geiger, was indicted along with 18 co-conspirators. Charges include filing false applications for CARES Act funds. The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers actor allegedly transferred about $421,000 in PPP loans to one of two ringleaders in the scheme.
The scheme, led by Michael Hill and Andrew Moran, allegedly defrauded the government of $3.5 million.
A Justice Department press release states:
“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… 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 FBI and IRS Criminal Investigations department are investigating the case, which is being prosecuted in the Eastern District of Texas.
St. John is known for playing the original Red Power Ranger, Jason Lee Scott, from 1993 to 1995. He also played the Gold Ranger in Power Rangers Zeo in 1996. Since then, he’s returned to various offshoots of the show for cameos.
St. John’s attorney says that he has plead not guilty. Additionally, he reminds the public that “an indictment is not evidence of guilt… All defendants are presumed innocent, and Mr. St. John intends to vigorously defend himself against this allegation.”
The CARES Act was signed into law by President Trump during the COVID pandemic. It includes a variety of funding assistance opportunities including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is the program that the defendants allegedly took advantage of.