What to Know
- The San Marino man was released after his parents put up a $10 million bond.
- Prosecutors allege the man used his family's vineyard in Lodi as a tactical training camp and gun range "to prepare for civil disorders.''
- During a search of the vehicle, police found a loaded semiautomatic handgun, multiple high-capacity magazines loaded with ammunition, an 18-inch machete, $3,200 in cash, a long metal pipe and a megaphone, the complaint states.
A San Gabriel Valley man accused of driving a truck loaded with firearms into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Old Town Pasadena was granted release pending trial on weapons charges after his parents put up a $10 million property bond, court records obtained Thursday show.
Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, of San Marino, is charged with one count each of conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines and making a false statement in acquisition of firearms. If convicted, he would face up to five years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Among the court-ordered conditions set for Hung's pretrial release, his lawyer must arrange for the transfer of a Winchester XPR bolt-action hunting rifle, a Mossberg 22-caliber rifle and a Glock 9-millimeter pistol to FBI special agents from locations in San Marino and Lodi, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday.
The court further ordered that Hung cannot be released until the U.S. Attorney's Office has reviewed and approved the property bond and the firearms have been transferred to the custody of the government.
Once released, Hung must submit to electronic monitoring and drug testing, according to the order signed by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.
Prosecutors allege Hung deliberately drove his white Dodge Ram -- adorned with flags associated with far-right extremist groups -- at the crowd of about 150 peaceful protesters who had been chanting "Black lives matter here'' on May 31.
The demonstrators scattered as the truck accelerated toward them, and no injuries were reported.
According to bystander video and witness interviews, Hung's truck bore an Oregon license plate that read, "WAR R1G.'' It was also modified with an elevated suspension, large tires and an enhanced exhaust pipe, which expelled a large plume of black smoke as it accelerated into the crowd, according to the criminal complaint.
The truck was also flying three large flags: a "Thin Blue Line'' flag, a Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me'' yellow flag, and an original 13 states "Betsy Ross'' American flag, prosecutors said.
During a search of the vehicle, police found a loaded semiautomatic handgun, multiple high-capacity magazines loaded with ammunition, an 18-inch machete, $3,200 in cash, a long metal pipe and a megaphone, the complaint states.
Prosecutors allege Hung used his family's vineyard in Lodi as a tactical training camp and gun range "to prepare for civil disorders.''
Hung and his associates "communicated regularly about his plans to stockpile firearms to prepare for civil disorders,'' the complaint alleges. The messages appeared to escalate in early March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the far-right movement began to propagate the theory that the virus was a hoax, the document states.
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.
Along with the vineyard -- whose business name is 157 California Reserve Inc. -- and properties in Los Angeles and Pasadena, Hung's parents own and operate an RV park in Bend, Oregon, according to the complaint.