A 28-year-old San Marino man who drove a flag-adorned truck with a license plate reading “WAR R1G” through a group of demonstrators in Pasadena who were protesting the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis last year agreed to plead guilty to 11 federal firearm-related charges on Thursday, officials said.
Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, agreed to plead guilty to charges including conspiracy, transporting and receiving firearms across state lines, making false statements during purchases of firearms, possession of short-barreled rifles and possession of unregistered firearms, according to U.S. Department of Justice Spokesman Ciaran McEvoy. The agreement came as prosecutors filed superseding indictment against Hung.
“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 McEvoy. “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 additionally admitted in his plea agreement that he embarked on the scheme for the purpose of evading California firearm laws, prosecutors added.
The defendant also admitted to making false statements while purchasing four rifles and a shotgun in Washington, officials said.
“Hung further admitted he illegally possessed three unregistered short-barreled semiautomatic rifles, which authorities seized from his residence in Lodi in September 2020,” McEvoy said.
The maximum sentence for all admitted charges would be 105 years in federal prison, three years of supervision upon release and a $2 million fine, according to court documents.
But under the proposed plea arrangement, prosecutors agreed to not seek a sentence greater than 33 months in prison or a fine of greater than $10,000.
Hung came to the attention of the FBI after he was arrested in Pasadena after police and witnesses said he drove his modified truck through a group of protestors at the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and Colorado Boulevard on May 31, 2020, Pasadena police officials said at the time.
“Hung, who was driving a customized Dodge pickup truck 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,” McEvoy 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.’ No protesters were injured during the incident.”
An illegally possessed pistol was seized from him at the time of his arrest, according to federal officials and Pasadena police.
Investigators soon discovered Hung had been stockpiling guns and ammunition both at his home in San Marino, as well as at a family vineyard in Lodi, which he had been using as a training center for a group calling themselves “Shooters of the Nest,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing opposing his release on bail.
Hung and his associates “wrote about their efforts to train for urban combat, and their desire to amass an arsenal to confront and kill members of ‘Antifa,’” according to the document.
A date for Hung, who was freed on a $10 million bond pending legal proceedings in November, to formally enter a guilty plea was yet to be scheduled.