May 23, 2022, 1:37:01 PM5/23/22
A beloved 1990s star was arrested this week in connection with an alleged
COVID-19 fraud scheme.
Austin St. John, who starred as the Red Ranger Jason Lee Scott in "Mighty
Morphin Power Rangers," was arrested Thursday in connection with a scheme
that allegedly defrauded some $3.5 million in COVID-19 related funds from the
federal Paycheck Protection Program. St. John, whose real name is Jason
Lawrence Geiger, was one of 18 individuals arrested as part of the suspected
According to TMZ, approximately 15 FBI agents arrived at St. John's home in
McKinney, Texas, at around 7 o'clock Thursday morning. The agents entered St.
John's home, brandishing rifles, and walked out with the 47-year-old actor in
handcuffs. The New York Post reported that the fraud ring was allegedly
spearheaded by Michael Lewayne "Tank" Hill and Andrew Charles Moran. A grand
jury in the federal Eastern District of Texas indicted the 18 individuals on
charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
In a statement, the Department of Justice named St. John as one of the
defendants ordered by the grand jury to appear before a magistrate judge,
complete with his iconic role:
Jason Lawrence Geiger, a/k/a Austin St. John a/k/a the Red Power
Ranger, 47, of McKinney
"[The] defendants... are alleged to have executed a scheme to defraud lenders
and the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Paycheck Protection Program
(PPP)," The DOJ said. "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. In other
instances, the defendants sent the fraudulently obtained funds to [defendant]
Jonathon Spencer for purported investment in foreign exchange markets. In
total, the defendants are alleged to have fraudulently obtained at least 16
loans and at least $3.5 million."
If convicted, each of the 18 individuals faces up to 20 years in federal
In a statement posted to his Twitter account Saturday, St. John's agent
Zachery McGinnis said that St. John's involvement in the alleged scheme was
tenuous, and expressed optimism that the actor would be exonerated. "The
indictment detailed today is populated by a multitude of individuals -- the
majority of which Austin has no knowledge of, and has never met or interacted
with," McGinnis wrote. "It is our understanding that Austin put his faith,
reputation and finances in the hands of third parties whose goals were self-
centered and ultimately manipulated and betrayed his trust. We expect
Austin's legal team to successfully defend against these charges and lead to
his ultimate exoneration."
St. John rose to fame for his role as Jason, the Red Power Ranger and leader
of the titular "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," beginning in 1993. He held the
role for two seasons of the children's action show, as well as a feature-
length movie based on the series, which premiered in theaters in 1995. St.
John reprised the role of Jason in the sequel series, "Power Rangers Zeo,"
and has made appearances in several episodes of subsequent series in the
Power Rangers franchise.
St. John is not the first Red Ranger to be fitted for an orange jumpsuit.
Ricardo Medina, Jr., who played Red Ranger Cole Evans in "Power Rangers Wild
Force," was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for stabbing his roommate
with a sword. Medina was sentenced to 6 years in prison, but has since been
Let's go Brandon!