(KRON) — The actor who played a superhero in the 1990’s hit TV show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” was arrested in an FBI raid this week.
Jason Lawrence Geiger, who played the Red Power Ranger, is facing up to 20 years in prison after federal prosecutors handed down an indictment against the TV star.
He was arrested by FBI agents at his home in Texas on Thursday.
Geiger is one of 18 defendants named in the indictment announced by Eastern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston on Friday.
Prosecutors said Geiger was involved in a scheme that defrauded a federal program set up to help struggling businesses during the COVID pandemic lockdowns in 2020.
Geiger and 17 others are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly receiving more than $3.5 million from 16 separate small business loans.
Jason Lawrence Geiger, aka Austin St. John aka the Red Power Ranger, 47, of McKinney, TX
Michael Lewayne Hill, aka Tank, 47, of Mineral Wells, TX
Andrew Charles Moran, 43, of Lewisville, TX
Peter Keovongphet, a/k/a Lil’ Pete, 34, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL;
Ty Alan Burkhart, 34, of Frisco, TX
Eric Reed Marascio, aka Phoenix Marcon, 50, of Allen, TX
Christopher Lee McElfresh, 43, of Frisco, TX
Cord Dean Newman, 44, of Homosassa, FL
Elmer Omar Ayala, 45, of Midlothian, TX
Gregory Fitzgerald Hatley, Jr., 38, of Allen, TX
Alexander Eric Cortesano, 52, of Dallas, TX
Arthur Atik Pongtaratik, 33, of Carrollton, TX
Miles Justin Urias, 34, of Richardson, TX
Fabian C. Hernandez, 44, of Lake Alfred, FL;
Daniel Lee Warren, 33, address unknown;
Rajaa Bensellam, 49, of Allen, TX
Hadi Mohammed Taffal, 50, of Allen, TX
Jonathon James Spencer, aka Spence, 33, of Rowlett, TX
If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
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 Paycheck Protection Program.
Hill “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,” prosecutors wrote.
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.
“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,” prosecutors wrote.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID pandemic.
One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
The wire fraud case was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.