The Justice Department has named 18 people in a federal indictment, accusing them of conspiracy violations to commit wire fraud in the Eastern District of Texas, and the group of 18 accused includes Mighty Morphin Power Rangers star Austin St. John. St. John, whose real name is Jason Lawrence Geiger, is the original Red Ranger on the show, and while we’re still waiting for more details on the charges, Release From US Attorney Brett Featherstone says the 18 defendants have either been arrested or summoned to appear before a federal judge. If convicted, the 18 defendants could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Jaeger is alleged to have been part of a scheme to defraud lenders and the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Michael Hill allegedly recruited others to use an existing business or set up a company to apply for PPP funding, and in the applications, defendants allegedly misrepresented material information. You can read an excerpt from the official statement issued by the Department of Justice and the list of defendants below.
Michael Lewayne Hill, a/k/a Tank, 47, of Mineral Wells;
Andrew Charles Moran, 43, of Louisville;
Peter Keovongphet, a/k/a Lil Pete, 34, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida;
T Alan Burkart, 34, of Frisco;
Jason Lawrence Geiger, a/k/a Austin St. John a/k/a Red Power Ranger, 47, from McKinney;
Eric Reed Marchio, a/k/a Phoenix Marcon, 50, of Allen;
Christopher Lee McElfrish, 43, of Frisco;
Cord Dean Newman, 44, of Homosasa, Florida;
Elmer Omar Ayala, 45, of Midlothian.
Gregory Fitzgerald Hatley, Jr., 38, of Allen;
Alexander Eric Cortesano, 52, of Dallas.
Arthur Atik Pongtaratek, 33, of Carrollton;
Miles Justin Oriyas, 34, of Richardson;
Fabian C. Hernandez, 44, of Lake Alfred, Florida;
Daniel Lee Warren, 33, address unknown;
Raja Bensalam, 49, from Allen;
Hadi Muhammad Tafal, 50 years old, from Allen. And
Jonathan James Spencer, A/C/A Spence, 33, of Roulette.
“According to the indictment, the defendants, led by Michael Hill and Andrew Moran, allegedly executed a scheme to defraud the lenders and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program,” the Justice Department statement read. “Hill allegedly recruited conspirators to use an existing business or Setting up a company to apply for PPP funding Once registered, Moran allegedly assisted his co-conspirators with the paperwork for the application, including fabricating supporting documents and submitting the application through internet portals. In the applications, the defendants allegedly misrepresented material information such as nature Actual of their business, number of employees and salary amount.
Based on these material misrepresentations, the Small Business Administration and other financial institutions approved and issued the loans to the defendants. Once fraudulently obtained funds were received, defendants did not use the funds as intended, such as to pay employees, cover fixed debts or utility payments, or continue employee health care benefits. Instead, the defendants typically paid Hill and Moran, transferred the money to their personal accounts, and spent the money on various personal purchases. In other cases, defendants sent fraudulently obtained funds to Jonathan Spencer for alleged investment in foreign exchange markets. In all, the defendants allegedly fraudulently obtained at least 16 loans and at least $3.5 million.
If convicted, each of the defendants faces up to 20 years in federal prison.”