If you were a kid in the 90s, you may want to brace yourself.
Jason Geiger—better known by his stage name Austin St. John and even better known as Jason the Red Power Ranger—has been arrested and charged with wire fraud conspiracy related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
In a press release last Wednesday, it was announced St. John was among 18 people named in an indictment accusing the defendants of defrauding the Small Business Administration, obtaining over $3.5 million in funds from the program.
And the internet was aghast.
Back in 2020, the government passed the CARES Act to try and combat some economic issues caused by the pandemic. Included in this legislation was the foundation for PPP Loans.
The purpose of the PPP loans was for businesses to continue running and paying for bare necessities. The primary purpose was covering the pay for employees, but the funds could also go toward office rent, mortgage, and utilities.
If the use of the funds meets certain requirements, the loans would be forgiven by the government.
St. John and the others named in the indictment are accused of using the PPP Loan funds for unauthorized personal purchases. This includes jewelry, vehicles and even cash withdrawals.
It is reported that up to $400,000 in fraudulent PPP loans were taken out by St. John or his business. From there, funds were transferred to the co-conspirators’ accounts.
People couldn’t believe the news.
St. John isn’t taking the accusation lying down, however. In a statement, he defends his innocence.
David Klaudt, the lawyer representing St. John said:
“An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and Mr. St. John intends to vigorously defend himself against this allegation.”
A post to the actor’s Instagram account claims that he’s the victim of actions taken by co-conspirators.
St. John is best known for his role as Jason Lee Scott, the first Red Power Ranger on the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He left the show during the second season, but has reprised his role in special crossovers, as recently as 2020 on the Power Rangers Beast Morphers series.
The situation seems a little odd, but does allow for a few jokes from internet commenters.
St. John seems hopeful as his booking company has announced his expectation to meet with fans at guest appearances in 2023. He’ll next appear in court on May 24th.