On Tuesday, May 17, the Red Ranger depicter, along with 18 other people, was arrested on suspicion of defrauding the government in matter related to federal Paycheck Protection Program.

AceShowbizAustin St. John is attempting to clear up his name. Days after being charged with conspiracy to commit COVID-19 wire fraud, the Red Ranger depicter in a number of “Power Rangers” movies finally broke his silence on the indictment.

Making use of his Instagram account, the 47-year-old actor released an official statement to explain his side of the story. “Austin St. John is a father, husband, role model and friend to many,” his statement read, “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 went on explaining that Austin was “manipulated and betrayed” by other parties. “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,” his message shared on Friday, May 20 continued.

The statement further declared that the 47-year-old actor and his legal team are handling the situation. “We expect Austin’s legal team to successfully defend against these charges and lead to his ultimate exoneration,” it read. “We ask that you respect the privacy of Austin’s family in light of this serious situation, and thank you for your support.”

On Tuesday, May 17, Austin was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to federal COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), he was one of 18 offenders, who were either arrested on suspicion or summoned before a federal magistrate judge for the charges. If the allegation was true, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Austin and the group of defendants reportedly obtained at least 16 loans and $3.5 million after conning lenders and Small Business Administration’s PPP effort. The defraud plan was said to be led by Michael Hill and Andrew Moran. It was reported that Michael recruited co-conspirators, who exploited an existing business or created a new one to submit application and obtain PPP funding.

As for Andrew, he was allegedly assisting the co-conspirators with the application paperwork to fabricate any supporting document and to submit their own application. The DOJ later declared that the defendants gave misleading information about the true nature of their business on the application.

Other than giving false information on the application, the suspects also gave false number of employee and the amount of their payroll. Their misrepresented materials got their loans request approved and dispersed by the Small Business Administration and other financial institutions.

It was also reported that the money they gained, which was supposed to be for employee’s wage, utility payment and health care benefits, was used for personal spending. Austin and 17 others were accused of giving the money to Michael and Andrew, who then transferred it to their personal bank accounts.

The case is still being investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Prosecuting the affair is Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern of Texas.

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