Lake Yellowstone Hotel (pictured) reported $2,865.42 in damages caused by Bagala. Photo: Jim Peaco // YNP

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A man who assaulted a law enforcement officer at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in September 2021 has been sentenced to nine months in prison.

Benjamin J. Bagala, age 27, of Santa Rosa, California pleaded guilty and was sentenced for three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees and one count of depredation against property of the United States.

He appeared via Zoom before United States Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, with credit served for four days and must surrender on or before March 4, 2022. He also received one year of supervised release with special conditions that include a ban from Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, Bagala was ordered to pay $2,865.42 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.

According to the evidence, on Sept. 25, 2021, at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Yellowstone National Park, Bagala was drinking heavily and began harassing guests, running through the halls, breaking things and eventually approached a security guard with threatening behavior. A law enforcement officer was called to the scene where Bagala’s action continued to progress and escalated to an attack on the officer. This law enforcement officer had to deploy his taser to safely gain control.

Bagala was extremely intoxicated and displayed injuries from earlier activities, so an ambulance was called. Two additional law enforcement officers arrived to transport Bagala to the Livingston Hospital in Montana. One of the officers rode in the back to restrain him during transport. Bagala broke out of his restraints and fought with the officer. The other officer, driving the ambulance, had to pull over and assist. During this time, both officers received injuries from Bagala’s actions.

Lake Yellowstone Hotel reported $2,865.42 in damages including broken plexiglass shields, broken plates, broken doors and frames, damaged light fixtures and blood splatter throughout the halls and lobby.

This crime was investigated by the National Park Service and prosecuted by Assistant United States
Attorney Stephanie A. Hambrick.

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She's a lover of alliteration, easy-to-follow recipes and board games when everyone knows the rules. Her favorite aspect about living in the Tetons is the collective admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.