Friday, February 03, 2023

Yellowstone rampage brings prison time for California man

| January 25, 2022 7:00 AM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a California man to nine months in prison for a drunken rampage in Yellowstone National Park in which he did thousands of dollars in damage to a hotel and struggled with rangers trying to subdue him.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Carman also ordered Benjamin J. Bagala, 27, of Santa Rosa, California, on Jan. 7 to stay out of Yellowstone and not use alcohol for a year after his time in prison.

Bagala pleaded guilty in December to three counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers and one count of damaging federal property.

Bagala had been drinking heavily, breaking things and harassing guests at the Lake Hotel on Sept. 25 when a ranger was called, Wyoming U.S. District Attorney L. Robert Murray said in a statement Wednesday.

Ranger Matthew Chuvarsky arrived to find broken plexiglass and Bagala threatening to fight with him. Chuvarsky used a Taser on Bagala and handcuffed him outside the hotel, according to Chuvarsky's report of the arrest filed in federal court in Wyoming.

Bagala had cuts on his hands and rangers put him in an ambulance. On the drive to a hospital in Livingston, Montana, Bagala unbuckled himself and struggled with another ranger, according to Chuvarsky.

The ranger who was driving had to stop and help control Bagala by using a Taser on him again. A paramedic subdued Bagala with ketamine but by then Bagala had struggled with five rangers and the paramedic, Chuvarsky wrote.

Rangers documented other damage, including broken doors and light fixtures, totaling $2,865, according to Carman.

Carman ordered Bagala to pay that amount in restitution.

Bagala's attorney, Tom Fleener, didn't immediately return a phone message Thursday seeking comment.