Former reporter accepts plea deal in prank call involving Gov. Kristi Noem’s number
Former Dakota News Now reporter Austin Goss pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct, a Class 2 misdemeanor
FORT PIERRE, S.D. — A former political reporter has accepted a plea deal after spoofing Gov. Kristi Noem’s phone number to prank call a state GOP official.
Austin Goss, 26, of Fort Pierre, pleaded guilty Tuesday, May 9, to one count of disorderly conduct, a Class 2 misdemeanor. The conviction came with a $578 fine and 30 days of suspended jail time. According to Jason Glodt, Goss’ attorney, the plea agreement includes a condition to remove the conviction from his record.
The conviction stems from a January prank phone call, in which Goss used a prank calling website to call Dan Lederman, who was then serving as executive director of the South Dakota Republican Party. The website allowed Goss to place the call as though it was coming from Noem’s phone number.
At the time of the call, Goss had worked as a Capitol bureau reporter for Dakota News Now. He has since been terminated. Authorities say it was likely Goss had both Lederman’s and Noem’s phone numbers through his work.
The phone call was eventually reported to police, who were able to trace it to Goss’ IP address via subpoenas submitted to PrankDial and Sioux Falls-based internet service provider Midco.
The prank call involved a pre-recorded audio set of a man accusing the call’s recipient of stealing vaccines from the man’s basement. In the call, the voice speaks lines such as “I’m not messing with you, man, you better start talking,” “Oh, you think this is funny?” and “You best quit messing with me.” In court documents, Lederman said the call caused concern for his safety.
After originally being charged with one count of making a threatening or harassing phone call, Goss was scheduled to appear in a Stanley County courtroom on May 23. Instead, he appeared Tuesday, May 9, as a result of the plea agreement.
In a statement distributed after Tuesday’s hearing, Glodt said the call was intended as a practical joke, and that Goss has apologized to those involved.
“I believe it is unfortunate he was charged in the first place, but appreciate the willingness of the state’s attorney to reduce the charge,” Glodt said. “Mr. Goss wants to apologize to the law enforcement officers who devoted limited resources to the matter. He also has reached out directly to the governor and the recipient of the call.”