East New York

East New York man gets 4 years after taxi driver found him passed out with gun

May 25, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn federal court. AP file photo

An East New York man with seven previous convictions was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for possessing a stolen gun in a taxi cab after he crashed his car while intoxicated.

“I went to a friend’s barbecue and I just got engulfed with the liquor,” Hassan Chunn said in front of Judge Brian M. Cogan and an audience of family members at Brooklyn Federal Court. “I made this mistake.”

Chunn said before a long sigh, looking over to his family, “I’m sorry.”

Chunn, 43, passed out in the backseat of a taxi with a gun on his lap on June 26, 2016. The taxi driver drove Chunn to a mobile police unit where officers were able to retrieve the loaded Bersa .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

He pled guilty to felony possession of a firearm on Nov. 22, 2016.

“There is no evil in this man,” Cogan said after Chunn provided his apology to the court. “I think he is a victim of his environment. We know exactly why he is how he is based on his past.”

Chunn’s attorney, Kenneth Montgomery, said that he grew up with Chunn and has known him since he was 14 years old. Chunn is from East New York and Montgomery is from Brownsville.

Covered by the largest precinct in New York City, the 75th, East New York has had the highest crimes and arrests in New York City for the last 20 years, according to a report by the Big Roundtable. As the report details, averaging from 2000-2013, about 1,059 felonies were committed in all other precincts while East New York averaged 2,622 felonies a year.

“We both lived in a time and survived a time that was very difficult,” Montgomery, who was once slashed in his face on the street, told the court. He said that Chunn is a product of a “traumatic and unstable environment” of crime and that he “learned to self-medicate.”

After his arrest, Chunn admitted to police that the gun was stolen from a party a few hours before and he was in the taxi because he had just crashed his car while intoxicated and “blacked out.” Of his seven previous convictions, five are gun related but no one was ever badly hurt by Chunn, according to Cogan. He also has a history of unlicensed driving.

“This is somebody who has a lifetime of choices,” Prosecutor Moira Kim Penza said in court. “He’s also a man who’s had a great deal of support,” she said, referencing Chunn’s family who was crying in the audience and had been supporting Chunn his entire life.

“Without that stability, most spiral out of control,” Montgomery said about Chunn’s family. Montgomery said that Chunn’s father was murdered when they were kids. “At the very moment that I met him, he had lost his father. In those formative years, he was missing something.”

“The moment I leave the house, it’s a different environment,” Chunn said, taking time to get his words out between tears. “My only advice was drinking … these things constantly haunt me … I try to do the right thing.”

Chunn has a history of alcohol and drug abuse and he was under the influence of drugs in several of his prior convictions, according to court documents.

“He’s a man who’s out of control,” Cogan said. “He himself said he can’t control himself … he’s just dangerous because he’s not in control.”

Cogan, who said it was a case that he would consider to deserve a higher sentence, changed his mind when he read Montgomery’s sentencing memorandum, and agreed with the probation office’s guideline of 52 months for Chunn. “I really think there’s hope for Mr. Chunn,” Cogan said.

Before Chunn sat down to wipe his eyes after his apology, he folded his hands, looked to Cogan and said, “You will never see me again.”

In the original version of this article, Judge Brian M. Cogan was mistakenly quoted as saying that he normally sentences above guidelines. However, the judge actually said that he was considering sentencing above guidelines in that specific trial. The newspaper regrets this error which has been corrected above.