California Man Sentenced for Assaulting Yellowstone Rangers
Written by Andrew-Rossi on January 19, 2022
The California resident will spend nine months in jail after one drunken night in Yellowstone that ended with broken property and injured rangers.
Benjamin J. Bagala, age 27, of Santa Rosa, California, pleaded guilty during a Zoom hearing with U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman. He was charged with three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees and one count of depredation against property of the United States after his actions during one night in Yellowstone National Park.
On Sept. 25, 2021, the incident occurred at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Bagala was drinking heavily and began harassing guests, running through the halls, breaking things, and eventually approached a security guard with threatening behavior.
A Park Ranger was called to the scene where Bagala’s action continued to progress and escalated to an attack on the officer.
Bagala was so out of control the responding Ranger had to deploy his taser to safely gain control.
An ambulance was called because Bagala was extremely intoxicated and had several injuries from his earlier activities.
Two additional Park Rangers arrived to help transport Bagala to the Livingston Hospital in Montana. One of the Rangers rode in the back to restrain him during transport.
During the ride, Bagala broke out of his restraints and fought with the officer. The other Ranger, driving the ambulance, had to pull over and assist.
Both Yellowstone Rangers received injuries from battling Bagala in the ambulance.
After the incident, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel reported $2,865.42 in damages – broken plexiglass shields, broken plates, broken doors and frames, and damaged light fixtures. Also, Bagala’s blood was splattered throughout the halls and lobby.
Balaga will serve nine months in prison for his outrageous behavior and one year supervised release – and that’s not even the full extent of his punishment.
Once released from prison, Bagala’s one year of supervised release has a number of special conditions. One of those conditions is a ban from Yellowstone National Park during the entire period.
Furthermore, he shall not use or possess alcohol, enter bars, pubs, or lounges, and continue with alcohol treatment as approved by a probation officer.
Bagala was also ordered to pay $2,865.42 in restitution – the full cost of his damages at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel – and a $100 special assessment.
This crime was investigated by the National Park Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie A. Hambrick.