Austin St. John, who suited up as Red Power Ranger in the ’90s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” series, has been arrested for wire fraud conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice.
In a Wednesday press release, St. John, whose legal name is Jason Lawrence Geiger, was among 18 named in an indictment that accuses the defendants of defrauding the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program, obtaining at least $3.5 million in fraudulent funding.
The indictment states two other defendants, Michael Hill and Andrew Moran, were ringleaders in corralling 16 others to apply for the small business loans with falsified documents and collected the money for their own personal purchases.
“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,” the release from the Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic by giving loans to business owners in need as part of the CARES Act passed in 2020.
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The defendants obtained 16 PPP loans and could face up to 20 years in federal prison each if convicted.
St. John, 47, first stepped into the “Power Rangers” world in 1993 as he portrayed Jason Lee Scott, the Red Power Ranger who led the rest of the crime-fighting team. During the “Power Rangers Zeo” TV series in 1996, he transformed into The Gold Ranger, according to IMDb.
The former Power Ranger was expected to attend Des Moines Con, an Iowa comic festival, but it was announced Thursday he would no longer be able to attend due to “unforeseen personal obligations.”
“He sends his apologies and love to all those that were looking forward to meeting him. Austin plans to be here to meet all of his fans in 2023,” the event’s booking company announced on Facebook.