Former Power Ranger Actor Austin St. John Arrested For Alleged Covid-19 Aid Fraud
Actor Austin St. John, who played the original Red Ranger in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series of the 1990s, was charged with committing wire fraud on Tuesday in a federal indictment related to the federal Covid-19 Paycheck Protection Program.
U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston and the Department of Justice announced that St. John was one of the 18 defendants arrested on suspicion of conspiracy on Wednesday.
One of the defendants, Michael Hill, is allegedly responsible for recruiting the rest of the group by using an existing business to submit applications to obtain funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Andrew Moran is another defendant who co-worked with Hill to create the business by fabricating supporting documentation and submitting the application through the government’s online portals. The group is alleged to have fraudulently obtained at least 16 loans and at least $3.5 million.
The DOJ announced that the defendants allegedly misrepresented information about the “true nature” of the business that they got involved in and the number of people the business employed and the amount of payroll. The loans were then approved and dispersed by the SBA and other financial institutions based on “these material misrepresentations.” The money was transferred into personal accounts instead of being put towards employee salaries, utility payments or health care benefits, as required by the program.
The case is now under the investigation of the FBI and IRS – Criminal Investigations, with Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern District of Texas prosecuting.
St. John faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.