Man who drove truck into Black Lives Matters protest in Old Town Pasadena sentenced for gun charges

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A man who drove his truck into a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Old Town Pasadena in 2020 was sentenced Monday for gun charges.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 29, of San Marino, received one year and one day in federal prison for violating multiple firearms laws, including illegally obtaining and transporting weapons, officials reported. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 criminal fine and perform 120 hours of community service, the United State’s Attorneys Office said in a news release.

In May, Hung pleaded guilty to 11 felonies including 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. 

Prosecutors said Hung drove a customized Dodge Ram truck flying three large flags related to right-wing extremist groups — a “Thin Blue Line” flag, a Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” yellow flag, and an original 13 states “Betsy Ross” American flag — into the crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in the Old Pasadena shopping district in May 31, 2020.

Prosecutors said Hung “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.

Between July 2014 and August 2018, authorities said Hung participated in a “multi-year conspiracy” to make false statements to firearms dealers in Oregon and to illegally transport those firearms to California.

“He also 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,” officials said in the news release. “The co-conspirator then delivered the firearms to Hung in California.”

In his plea agreement, Hung said he engaged in the scheme to obtain the firearms and “evade California’s firearms registration laws.” He also made false statements about where he resided to firearms dealers in Washington when he bought four rifles and a shotgun in March 2020. Hung illegally transported those firearms into California and illegally possessed three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from one of his residences in Lodi in September 2020.

The judge who sentenced Hung described him as a person who was “looking for trouble” when he went to the protests and 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.

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