A San Gabriel Valley man accused of driving a truck into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Old Town Pasadena last year agreed Thursday to plead guilty to a series of federal weapons offenses.
Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, of San Marino, will 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 immediately 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, according to federal prosecutors.
Hung provided cash to a co-conspirator in Oregon to buy handguns for him and to falsely state to being the actual buyer, rather than Hung. The co-conspirator then delivered the firearms to Hung in California, according to court documents.
In his plea agreement, Hung admitted that he engaged in the scheme to obtain the firearms and “evade California’s firearms registration laws.” He further admitted he illegally possessed three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from his family’s Lodi home last September.
In the plea agreement, Hung admitted bringing one of his illegally obtained firearms, a Glock 26 9mm handgun, to counter-protest in Old Town Pasadena against a group that 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 alleged 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 alleged. 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.
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