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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 25, 2021

San Marino Man Who Drove Truck into Demonstrators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Committing Various Firearms Offenses

          LOS ANGELES – A San Gabriel Valley man who last year drove his truck into a crowd of demonstrators in Pasadena was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison for violating multiple firearms laws, including illegally obtaining and transporting weapons.

          Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 29, a San Marino resident who also has a home in Lodi, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson, who also ordered Hung to pay a $10,000 criminal fine and perform 120 hours of community service.

          Hung pleaded guilty on May 12 to a superseding information charging him with 11 felonies: one count of conspiracy, two counts of transporting and receiving firearms across state lines, five counts of making false statements during the purchase of firearms and three counts of possession of unregistered firearms.

          From July 2014 to August 2018, Hung participated 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. Hung admitted in his plea agreement that he engaged in the scheme to obtain the firearms and “evade California’s firearms registration laws.”

          Hung also made false statements to firearms dealers in Washington in connection with his purchase of four rifles and one shotgun in March 2020. When he purchased the firearms, Hung falsely attested that he was a resident of Washington, rather than California, which was material because, as Hung admitted in the plea agreement, “the firearms dealers were not legally permitted to sell firearms to California residents.” Hung illegally transported those firearms into California and illegally possessed three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from his residence in Lodi in September 2020.

          In court documents, Hung admitted to 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, 2020, to protest unequal treatment of minorities by police, including the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer. Hung, who was driving a customized Dodge pickup truck with 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.” No protesters were injured during the incident.

          Judge Wilson described Hung as “looking for trouble” when he went to the protests and determined that while Hung did not intend to endanger anyone’s life, he engaged in “threatening” behavior designed to “intimidate” and “create fear.”

          Local police detained Hung following his confrontation with the demonstrators, and the FBI then took over the investigation.

          “Over a seven-year period, in preparation for what he described as an upcoming ‘civil war’…Benjamin Hung illegally accumulated a massive cache of weapons,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “[Hung’s] motives were clear: his messages to friends reflected increasingly violent rhetoric, including his desire not to defend himself, but to seek out and ‘eradicate’ his perceived enemies.”

          The FBI’s Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI civil rights squads and the Pasadena Police Department investigated this matter.

          Assistant United States Attorneys Frances S. Lewis and David T. Ryan, both of the General Crimes Section, prosecuted this case.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Contact: 
Ciaran McEvoy Public Information Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) ciaran.mcevoy@usdoj.gov (213) 894-4465
Press Release Number: 
21-219
Updated October 25, 2021