Original Red Power Ranger Austin St. John Indicted on Pandemic-Related Wire Fraud Charges

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers‘ very first Red Ranger, Austin St. John, has been indicted on wire fraud charges by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Per ComicBook.com, the Department of Justice has named Jason Lawrence Geiger, aka Austin St. John, as well as 17 other individuals in the indictment. The individuals have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Eastern District of Texas as a result of an alleged scheme that saw existing and newly created businesses apply for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The defendants are alleged to have misrepresented material information on these applications.

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“According to the indictment, 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),” the DOJ release reads. “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 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.”

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This news comes on the heels of Hasbro reportedly asking all remaining members of the original 1993 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cast to return for the series’ upcoming 30th anniversary. The original lineup consisted of Jason Lee Scott/Red Ranger (Austin St. John), Kimberly Hart/Pink Ranger (Amy Jo Johnson), Trini Kwan/Yellow Ranger (Thuy Trang), Zack Taylor/Black Ranger (Walter Jones) and Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger (David Yost). The reunion would mark the first time the original cast has had a proper on-set reunion since the first Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers departed from the series in 1994, just one year after Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered.

Created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered in 1993, combining original footage with clips from the already-popular Japanese Super Sentai franchise produced by Toei Company. Apart from the small-screen series, which has spawned 21 iterations across 28 seasons, the Power Rangers franchise has also produced a plethora of comics, toys, and games. The 30th anniversary special is anticipated to be among the final episodes of the original franchise ahead of Netflix launching its own reboot of the series. The BOOM! Studios Power Rangers comic book universe is also approaching its own 100-issue milestone.

If convicted, the defendants could each face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Source: ComicBook.com

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