Federal Prison for San Marino Man Who Drove Truck Into Demonstrators

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

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

In a piece of superseding information, Hung was charged 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.

Over the course of a multi-year conspiracy, Hung made false statements to firearms dealers in Oregon and illegally transported those firearms to California. Using cash provided by Hung, a co-conspirator in Oregon bought handguns for Hung while falsely claiming the co-conspirator was the actual purchaser. After that, the co-conspirator delivered the firearms to Hung in California. According to his plea agreement, Hung participated in a scheme to obtain firearms and evade California's registration laws.

As part of his purchase of four rifles and one shotgun in March 2020, Hung also made false statements to firearms dealers in Washington. 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.

During a counterprotest, Hung admitted bringing a Glock 26 9mm handgun he had illegally acquired to Old Town Pasadena on May 31, 2020, against a group protesting the unequal treatment of minorities by police, including the murder of George Floyd. Hang, driving a Dodge pickup with license plates reading "WAR R1G," accelerated toward the intersection where the protest was taking place, sounded a train horn installed on the truck, came to a stop, and then carried on through the intersection. While passing the demonstrators, Hung caused his truck to emit a large amount of exhaust, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as "coal rolling." No protesters were injured in the incident.

As Judge Wilson noted, Hung was looking for trouble when he went to the protests. Though Hung did not intend to endanger anyone's life, he engaged in "threatening" behavior designed to "intimidate" and "create fear."

After Hung's confrontation with demonstrators, the local police detained him, and the FBI took over the investigation.

Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum that Benjamin Hung illegally accumulated a massive cache of weapons over a period of seven years in preparation for what he described as an upcoming "civil war." Hang's motives were clear: his messages to friends revealed increasing violence, including his desire not to defend himself but to annihilate his enemies.

It was investigated by the FBI's Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI civil rights squads, and the Pasadena Police Department.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frances S. Lewis and David T. Ryan, both from the General Crimes Section.

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