Reporter Pleads Guilty to Using Gov. Kristi Noem’s Phone Number to Target Republican Official

Former broadcast television reporter Austin Goss pleaded guilty to using South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s personal cell phone number to make a prank phone call.

Goss, made the prank call to Dan Lederman, the former chair of the South Dakota Republican Party, on Jan. 22 using a website called “PrankDial” which made it appear that the call was coming from Noem’s personal phone.

Goss, 26, was a reporter in the Capitol bureau of Dakota News Now when he was arrested May 4 after an investigation, Dakota News Now reported.

He was fired the same day.

“We learned of the incident involving Austin Goss late last night,” the network said in a statement. “Once we gathered the facts, we decided to terminate his employment with our stations. Dakota News Now and KOTA Territory were unaware of Mr. Goss’ activities and deeply regret the lack of judgment he showed, which violated our policies and is contrary to our commitment to the highest standards of journalistic integrity.”

According to CBS News, Goss used a recording from the website called “Mafia Guy Got Vaccines” that makes it sound like a member of the Mafia is angrily calling Lederman about COVID-19 vaccine.

In the pre-recorded call, the “Mafia voice” at one point says, “You telling me you didn’t tell Vito that you were gonna try to move the three boxes of that AstraZeneca outside this family?”

On the PrankDial website, there is an option for each prank phone call to add the phrase “You’ve been pranked by PrankDial” to the end of the call, and that is the last thing Lederman heard.

KCCR Radio reported that Goss was initially charged with “Making Threatening, Harassing or Misleading Contacts,” but that charge was dismissed when Goss “pleaded guilty Tuesday to Disorderly Conduct, a Class Two Misdemeanor.”

According to CBS News, Jason Glodt, Goss’ attorney, called the incident a practical joke between Goss and a friend.

“The Court granted Mr. Goss a suspended imposition of sentence so there will be no conviction on his record,” Glodt said in a statement obtained by CBS.

“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.”

“Goss was given a suspended imposition of sentence. He received a suspended 30 day jail sentence, one year of probation and fine of 500-dollars,” according to the KCCR Radio website.

At the time of the incident, Gov. Noem believed that her phone was hacked and being used to make hoax calls.

“Callous mishandling of personal information has real-world consequences,” said Noem in a January news release. “If you get such a phone call from my number, know that I had no involvement. I have urged both the United States Attorney General and multiple congressional committees to investigate the leaking of my family’s personal information, and I look forward to whatever resolution they can provide.”

Glodt described the “The crime of disorderly conduct is on the same level as a speeding ticket,” but the aftermath of the incident seems to indicate otherwise.

Lederman, according to the New York Post, told authorities that the audio recording “caused him concern for his safety.”

To view the initial complaint filed against Goss, click here.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.