Austin St. John, the actor who played the original Red Ranger in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series of the 1990s, found himself in hot water with the feds this week.
U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston and the Department of Justice announced the arrests of 18 individuals, including St. John, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a press release on Wednesday.
St. John, 47, was picked up by authorities at his home Thursday morning, TMZ reports. A representative for the actor did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
One of the defendants, Michael Hill, is alleged to have recruited the other individuals to either use an existing business or to create a business in order to submit applications to obtain funding from the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, the loan program that was designed to keep businesses afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
A statement was posted on the actor's Instagram account on Friday afternoon, reading: "Austin St. John is a father, husband, role model and friend to many. The indictment detailed today is populated by a multitude of individuals - the majority of which Austin has no knowledge of, and has never met or interacted with. It is our understanding that Austin put his faith, reputation, and finances in the hands of third parties whose goals were self-centered and ultimately manipulated and betrayed his trust. We expect Austin's legal team to successfully defend against these charges and lead to his ultimate exoneration. We ask that you respect the privacy of Austin's family in light of this serious situation, and thank you for your support."
Bobby Bank/WireImage Austin St. John, who played the original Red Power Ranger, has been arrested for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Andrew Moran, another defendant, is alleged to have helped his co-conspirators with fabricating supporting documentation and submitting the application through the government's online portals. After successfully obtaining the funds via false information, instead of using the loans as intended, the defendants allegedly spent the money on personal purchases.
The 18 conspirators are alleged to have received 16 loans and at least $3.5 million in total. If convicted, they each face 20 years in federal prison.
St. John, born Jason Lawrence Geiger, starred as Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger, on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which premiered in 1993. He returned to the growing franchise over the years as his character transitioned to becoming the Gold Ranger.
The actor also appeared in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, the 1997 film that launched the Power Rangers Turbo television series. He also had cameos on some of the other Rangers shows over the years.
St. John regularly turns up for fan conventions and events for signings and photos.
This isn't the first time an actor from the Rangers-verse has faced legal troubles. Ricardo Medina Jr., who played the Red Ranger on Power Rangers Wild Force, was sentenced in 2017 for fatally stabbing his roommate with a sword. Before that, Skylar Deleon, who had a non-speaking role as a child actor on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, was convicted in 2008 of three counts of first-degree murder.