Former Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Charged with PPP Loan Fraud

0
359
Former Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Charged with PPP Loan Fraud

Austin St. John, 47, of McKinney, TX, is one of 18 people charged in a Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) fraud scheme that allegedly involved 16 loans and $3.5 million.

St. John is best known as the original Red Power Ranger in the television series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The series started in 1993.

Former Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Austin St. John charged with PPP loan fraud

St. John was one of the original Power Rangers. He played the fictional character Jason Lee Scott as the Red Power Ranger known as the Tyrannosaurus. Tyrannosaurus was the leader of the group and could wield the powerful Power Sword.

The Power Sword was only used in one episode. It’s ironic now – the episode was called The Green Dream.

St. John left the Power Rangers franchise after a few seasons, citing a contract dispute.

A statement from St. John’s officials said: “Austin St. John is a father, husband, role model and friend to many. Today’s detailed indictment is populated by a multitude of people – most of whom Austin is unaware of and has never met or interacted with. It is our understanding that Austin placed his trust, reputation and finances in the hands of third parties whose goals were self-centered and ultimately manipulated and abused his trust. We expect Austin’s legal team to successfully defend these allegations and result in his final discharge.”

PPP Green Dream scam program

St. John (real name Jason Lawrence Geiger) was among 18 defendants indicted by US Attorneys on May 12 in the Eastern District of Texas. He and the others are accused of federal wire fraud. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the US Attorney’s Office press release, the group had two ringleaders, Michael “Tank” Hill, 47, of Mineral Wells, TX, and Andrew Moran, 43, of Lewisville. Hill and Moran assisted the others with paperwork for PPP applications, including forming fictitious companies and forging supporting documents.

In exchange for the assistance, a portion of the funds received from the individuals were transferred to Hill and Moran or to the individuals’ personal accounts. In some cases, funds have been passed to another member of the 18, Jonathan Spencer, 33, of Rowlett, Texas. Spencer reportedly invested the money in forex markets.

All 18 will appear before a federal judge for the Eastern District of Texas. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Reports of PPP scams and other Covid aid scams

It could be years before investigations into the extent of the Covid Relief scam are complete. By some estimates, the PPP fraud could be as high as $80 billion, or about 10% of the $800 billion in PPPs.

Unemployment fraud estimates range from $90 billion to $400 billion from the $900 billion Covid unemployment benefit scheme. Add another potential $80 billion from the Economic Impact Disaster Loan program.

Get the latest headlines from Small Business Trends. Follow us on Google News.

More in: PPP loans