Red Power Ranger actor indicted in COVID loan fraud

Austin St. John, who is also known as Jason Lawrence Geiger, is one of 18 people charged in...
Austin St. John, who is also known as Jason Lawrence Geiger, is one of 18 people charged in this case, according to a federal indictment.(CNN Newsource)
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 2:54 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(Gray News) - Austin St. John, the actor who played the role of the Red Power Ranger in the 1990s television show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a Paycheck Protection Program scam.

St. John, who is also known as Jason Lawrence Geiger, is one of 18 people charged in this case, according to a federal indictment.

The defendants are accused of fraudulently obtaining at least $3.5 million through at least 16 loans.

According to the indictment, the following people have either been arrested or summoned for an appearance before a federal magistrate judge:

  • Michael Lewayne Hill, aka Tank, 47, of Mineral Wells;
  • Andrew Charles Moran, 43, of Lewisville;
  • Peter Keovongphet, aka Lil’ Pete, 34, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL;
  • Ty Alan Burkhart, 34, of Frisco;
  • Jason Lawrence Geiger, aka Austin St. John, 47, of McKinney;
  • Eric Reed Marascio, aka Phoenix Marcon, 50, of Allen;
  • Christopher Lee McElfresh, 43, of Frisco;
  • Cord Dean Newman, 44, of Homosassa, FL;
  • Elmer Omar Ayala, 45, of Midlothian;
  • Gregory Fitzgerald Hatley, Jr., 38, of Allen;
  • Alexander Eric Cortesano, 52, of Dallas;
  • Arthur Atik Pongtaratik, 33, of Carrollton;
  • Miles Justin Urias, 34, of Richardson;
  • Fabian C. Hernandez, 44, of Lake Alfred, FL;
  • Daniel Lee Warren, 33, address unknown;
  • Rajaa Bensellam, 49, of Allen;
  • Hadi Mohammed Taffal, 50, of Allen; and
  • Jonathon James Spencer, aka Spence, 33, of Rowlett.

They allegedly misrepresented information on the PPP applications and ultimately transferred the money to personal accounts or invested it in foreign exchange markets.

The indictment says Michael Hill and Andrew Moran are accused of leading the scheme to defraud lenders and the Small Business Administration’s PPP.

If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison.

The PPP was put into place to help small businesses keep workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing access to low-interest loans.

Copyright 2022 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.