San Marino Man Who Drove Truck Into Protesters To Plead Guilty

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A San Gabriel Valley man accused of driving a truck loaded with firearms into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Old Town Pasadena last year agreed today to plead guilty to a series of federal weapons offenses.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, of San Marino, agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony offenses, including conspiracy, transporting and receiving firearms across state lines, making false statements during purchases of firearms and possession of unregistered firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A date for his plea to be taken in Los Angeles federal court was not yet scheduled.

Hung admitted to participating in a multi-year conspiracy to make false statements to firearms dealers in Oregon and to illegally transport those firearms to California. Hung provided cash to a co-conspirator in Oregon to buy handguns for Hung and to falsely state that the co-conspirator was the actual buyer, rather than Hung. The co-conspirator then delivered the firearms to Hung in California. In his plea agreement, Hung admitted that he engaged in the scheme to obtain the firearms and “evade California's firearms registration laws.''

Hung further admitted he illegally possessed three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from his family's home in Lodi in September.

In the plea agreement, Hung admitted bringing one of his illegally obtained firearms, a Glock 26 9mm handgun, to counterprotest in Old Town Pasadena against a group who had gathered on May 31 to protest against inequitable treatment of minorities by police, including the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis.

Hung, who was driving a customized Dodge pickup with vanity license plates reading “WAR R1G,'' accelerated toward an intersection where the protest was taking place, sounded a train horn installed on the truck, came to a stop, and then continued through the intersection. As he drove past the demonstrators, Hung caused the truck to emit a large amount of exhaust in what is sometimes called “coal rolling.''

The protesters scattered as the truck accelerated toward them, and no injuries were reported.

Prosecutors allege Hung used his family's vineyard in Lodi as a tactical training camp and gun range “to prepare for civil disorders,'' according to a complaint filed last year.

Hung and his associates “communicated regularly about his plans to stockpile firearms to prepare for civil disorders,'' the complaint alleges. The messages appeared to escalate in early March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the far-right movement began to propagate the theory that the virus was a hoax, the document states.

One of Hung's neighbors in San Marino described seeing the defendant on multiple occasions “wearing military-like camouflage, military fatigues and carrying a gray tactical vest,'' according to court papers.

Along with the vineyard -- whose business name is 157 California Reserve Inc. -- and properties in Los Angeles and Pasadena, Hung's parents own and operate an RV park in Bend, Oregon, according to the complaint.

Photo: Getty Images

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content