First published in the Oct. 28 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
A San Marino man who drove a truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Pasadena last year was sentenced Monday to a year and a day behind bars for federal weapons offenses.
Benjamin “Benny” Hung, 29, a 2010 graduate of San Marino High School, was also ordered to perform 120 days of community service and pay a $10,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Hung pleaded guilty in May to 11 felony charges, including conspiracy, transporting and receiving firearms across state lines, making false statements during purchases of firearms and possession of unregistered firearms.
Hung admitted to participating in a multi-year conspiracy to make false statements to firearms dealers in Oregon and to illegally transport weapons to California. He provided cash to a co-conspirator in Oregon to buy handguns for him and to falsely claim to be the actual buyer, prosecutors said. They also said the co-conspirator then delivered the firearms to Hung in California.
Hung also admitted that he engaged in the scheme to obtain the weapons and evade California’s firearms registration laws. He further acknowledged illegally possessing three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from his family’s Lodi home last September.
In his plea agreement, Hung admitted bringing one of his illegally obtained firearms, a Glock 26 9-millimeter handgun, to a demonstration in Old Town Pasadena on May 31, 2020, where a group had gathered to protest what it said was inequitable treatment of minorities by police after the death of George Floyd 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, prosecutors said. 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 said 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 stated. The messages appeared to escalate in early March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a far-right movement began to propagate the theory that the virus was a hoax.
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.