A California man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail on Wednesday for assaulting law enforcement in Yellowstone National Park and damaging property at a park hotel in September of last year.
Benjamin J. Bagala, 27 of Santa Rosa, California, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees and one count of depredation against property of the United States, according to a Department of Justice news release.
The release said on September 25, 2021, Bagala was drinking heavily and harassing guests at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in YNP, running through the halls and breaking property. He eventually approached a security guard with threatening behavior, and a law enforcement officer was called to the scene.
Bagala's behavior escalated to an assault on the officer, who had to deploy his taser on Bagala to regain control. An ambulance was called due to Bagala's intoxication and visible injuries from earlier activities.
Bagala was transported by two additional officers to Livingston Hospital. Bagala broke free from his restraints during transport and began to fight with the officer riding in the back of the ambulance with him. The second officer driving the ambulance had to pull over to assist. Both officers sustained injuries from the incident.
Bagala reportedly caused $2,865.42 in damages to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, including broken plexiglass shields, broken plates, broken doors and frames, damaged light fixtures, and blood splatter throughout the halls and lobby. He was ordered to pay that amount, along with $100 special assessment, in restitution as part of his sentence.
Bagala appeared via Zoom before United States Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman. He received four days' credit off his nine-month sentence for time served and must surrender on or before March 4, 2022.
Following his jail term, Bagala must serve one year of supervised release with special conditions that include a ban from Yellowstone National Park. He is prohibited from using or possessing alcohol and cannot enter bars, pubs, or lounges. He is required to continue with alcohol treatment as approved by a probation officer.
Bagala's case was investigated by the National Park Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie A. Hambrick.