Power Ranger Actor Among 18 Charged in PPP Scam

Indictment says fraudulent loan applications brought in $3.5M
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2022 2:30 PM CDT
Power Ranger Actor Among 18 Charged in PPP Scam
"Doc" Nigh, left, and Austin St. John, former Red Power Ranger, greet people in Dubuque, Iowa, as part of the competition and TV series "Fireball Run: Big Country" in 2017.   (Eileen Meslar/Telegraph Herald via AP)

(Newser) – A federal indictment accuses 18 people of fraudulently collecting $3.5 million in PPP loans intended to help businesses, including an actor in the Power Rangers TV series. The group's members spent the money on themselves, prosecutors in Texas said. Jason Lawrence Geiger, 47, faces a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, NBC News reports; he played the Red Power Ranger in the 1990s under the name Austin St. John. Like the others, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if convicted. Geiger was arrested and arraigned this week, per CNN, and is next due in court Tuesday. His lawyer said he's pleaded not guilty.

In June 2020, Geiger received a $225,754 loan for a business called St. John Enterprises, according to the indictment. The money went to "cash withdrawals, gold and silver purchases, luxury jewelry items, and vehicles" for the defendants, the filing says. Prosecutors said Michael Hill and Andrew Moran ran the scheme, recruiting co-conspirators to "use an existing business or create a business" for which they could apply for PPP funding. The indictment says the defendants misrepresented such information as the number of employees, payroll, and the purpose of the business. The Paycheck Protection Program was intended to keep small businesses, and the jobs they provide, going during the pandemic. (Read more weird crimes stories.)

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