LOS ANGELES (CN) — A California man who intentionally drove his Dodge pick up truck into a Black Lives Matter protest last year agreed Thursday to plead guilty to federal firearm offense charges including illegally obtaining and transporting weapons.
Federal prosecutors say Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, orchestrated a scheme to transport illegally obtained firearms to California by lying to firearm dealers in Oregon.
For years, Hung paid cash to a co-conspirator in Oregon cash to purchase firearms for him while hiding the fact Hung was the final owner of the weapons, prosecutors said.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Hung admitted to obtaining the weapons through this scheme in order to “evade California’s firearms registration laws.”
Hung also admitted to purchasing four rifles and one shotgun in March 2020 from Washington state firearm dealers by falsely stating he was a resident of that state.
According to the plea agreement, Hung understood “the firearms dealers were not legally permitted to sell firearms to California residents.”
Three unregistered, short-barreled semiautomatic rifles were seized by authorities from his family’s vineyard in Lodi, California, in September 2020 as part of a federal investigation into Hung’s actions.
Hung agreed Thursday to 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.
The charges were outlined in the plea agreement and an information filed by federal prosecutors.
Authorities began investigating Hung, a resident of the Los Angeles County city of San Marino, after an incident last year that threatened the safety of people protesting racial injustice.
On May 31, 2020, a group of 150 Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Pasadena, California, to protest the murder of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officer Derick Chauvin.
Hung arrived at the protest and then accelerated his truck toward an intersection where the protest was happening. Hung sounded a train horn on the truck and people --- including two undercover police officers --- sprinted to avoid being run over, according to a criminal complaint filed in connection with the incident.
Hung stopped the truck briefly before continuing through the intersection emitting a large exhaust cloud.
The truck was a customized Dodge pickup with vanity license plates reading “WAR R1G.”
No one was injured in the incident but Hung was arrested by Pasadena police shortly after. The FBI initiated an investigation but Hung faced no charges in connection with the truck incident.
In a plea agreement, Hung admitted to bringing an illegally obtained Glock 26 9mm handgun to the May 31 protest.
A date has not been set for Hung to appear in a Central District of California courtroom to enter the guilty plea.
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