A South Dakota broadcast reporter, Austin Goss, faces criminal charges for making a prank call using Governor Kristi Noem’s personal cell phone number. Goss, formerly a capitol bureau reporter for Dakota News Now, has been charged with a misdemeanor for making threatening, harassing, or misleading contacts. If found guilty, Goss could face up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,000.
The recipient of the prank call was Dan Lederman, former chair of the South Dakota Republican Party. Lederman confirmed he received the call on January 22. The court affidavit filed by investigators only identified him as a 50-year-old with the initials D.L.
Wow! “South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation wrote in the statement that the call came from a website called PrankDial, which was able to make it appear as though it was coming from Noem’s cellphone.” 👀 https://t.co/yrod9vsded
— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) May 5, 2023
Goss allegedly used a website called PrankDial to make the call, which allowed him to impersonate Gov. Noem’s number.
During the pre-recorded call, a mafia member’s voice accused Lederman of stealing boxes of vaccines, with lines such as, “You telling me you didn’t tell Vito that you were gonna try to move the three boxes of that AstraZeneca outside this family?” The call concluded with the statement, “You’ve just been pranked by PrankDial.com.”
Lederman informed the investigator that Goss would occasionally send him snide or rude text messages. The audio recording from the prank call led Lederman to express concern for his safety.
Following Goss’s surrender, Stanley County Sheriff Brad Rathbun stated that the former reporter was released on a personal recognizance bond. Court records show Goss is representing himself and has yet to respond to requests for comment. Gov. Noem’s spokesman, Ian Fury, declined to comment.
In a joint statement, Dakota News Now and KOTA Territory News announced Goss’s termination. They expressed regret over his lack of judgment and stated they were “unaware of Mr. Goss’ activities.”
The prank call incident occurred shortly after Gov. Noem demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the leaking of her family’s social security numbers when Congress released its findings on the January 6 investigation. A day after the prank call was made, Noem urged the U.S. Attorney General and multiple congressional committees to look into the leaking of her family’s personal information, including her personal cell phone number.
This situation raises new concerns about the security of personal information for public figures and the potential consequences of using such information for pranks or other malicious activities. It remains to be seen how this case will unfold and its implications for the individuals involved and the broader issue of privacy.