GREAT FALLS — Benjamin J. Bagala was sentenced in federal court this week to serve time in jail and pay nearly $3,000 in fines for drunkenly harassing guests in Yellowstone National Park and fighting with park police in September 2021.
According to the evidence, on September 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. The officer had to use his Taser to "safely gain control," according to a news release.
Bagala was "extremely intoxicated" and displayed injuries from earlier activities, so an ambulance was called. Two additional law enforcement officers arrived to take Bagala to the Livingston Hospital in Montana.
One of the officers rode in the back to restrain him during the ride; Bagala broke out of his restraints and fought with the officer. The other officer, who was driving the ambulance, had to pull over and assist.
During this time, both officers sustained 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.
Bagala, 27 years old, 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.
Bagala appeared via Zoom before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark 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 supervised release with special conditions that include a ban from Yellowstone National Park; he shall not use or possess alcohol, shall not enter into bars, pubs, lounges, etc., and will continue with alcohol treatment as approved by the probation officer. Bagala was also ordered to pay $2,865.42 in restitution.