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Man who drove truck through California protest to plead guilty in gun case

No one was hurt when Benjamin Hung drove into the protest crowd, but he had a handgun he obtained illegally and others were found.
Image: Firearms believed to belong to Benjamin Hung
Firearms believed to belong to Benjamin Hung.US District Court, Central California

A California man who drove into a protest crowd in Pasadena last year and was later charged with federal firearms counts will plead guilty, prosecutors said Thursday.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, will plead guilty to 11 federal counts, and prosecutors will recommend a sentence of no more than two years and nine months in prison, according to a plea agreement.

Many of the charges carry up to 10 years in prison each. A date for the plea has not yet been set.

The charges deal with lies Hung told gun dealers in another state so that he could get guns and avoid California's registration laws. He also had short-barreled rifles that weren't registered federally as required, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

In some cases, Hung gave money to a friend in Oregon who bought handguns for Hung, and in another case, Hung bought guns in Washington state but lied about where he lived.

Hung drove his truck — with a "WAR R1G" license plate, flying "Thin Blue Line," "Don't Tread on Me" and "Betsy Ross" flags, and spewing black smoke from a modified exhaust, which is known as coal rolling — through a peaceful crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Pasadena on May 31.

No one was hurt, but he was stopped by police in that Los Angeles-area city right after the incident.

Hung had a handgun and loaded magazines in a closed fanny pack in the truck when he was stopped by police, according to officials. He also had a machete and pipe. The FBI then took over the investigation.

An attorney for Hung declined to comment until the case is over.

When the truck drove through protesters, people had to run out of the way, officials said. Hung told police that people had been throwing things at his truck, but an FBI agent who wrote the affidavit said they saw no evidence of that.

An FBI affidavit filed with the initial criminal complaint cites an alleged group text from Hung, sent a few days before the protest, in which he appeared disappointed he could never seem to find "antifa" while he was "out war rigging."

The protest in Pasadena calling attention to the use of police force against Black people occurred days after George Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. The police officer, Derek Chauvin was convicted by a jury of murder and manslaughter earlier this month.