Today, in “Crimes that would be gross but relatively banal, had not a former member of the Power Rangers allegedly committed them” news: Austin St. John, best known for playing the very first Red Ranger on Saban Entertainment’s long-running Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangershas been arrested this week, along with 16 other people, on account of committing fraud related to government COVID-19 relief funds.
This is per THR, which reports that St. John—a martial artist, author, and actor who has appeared a number of times throughout the endlessly expanding Power Rangers franchise as his character, Jason Lee Scott—was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud on Tuesday. He’s one of several people who’ve been alleged to have applied for the US government’s COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program—meant to help small businesses retain employees during the pandemic lockdowns—on false pretenses, instead using the payments for personal purchases while funneling money to the accused ringleaders of the scheme. The group is accused of defrauding more than $3.5 million from the program.
In a post on his Instagram today, members for St. John painted him as a victim in this whole conspiracy, writing that:
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.
In addition to his work with the Power Rangers franchise, St. John recently broke into the world of faith-based filmmaking, appearing alongside Stephen Baldwin in 2019’s A Walk With Grace.