SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A former Pierre-based reporter is facing charges for a January prank call.
Former KOTA and Dakota News Now reporter Austin Goss, 26, was arrested and charged with making threatening, harassing or misleading contacts, which is a class one misdemeanor. Goss appeared in court Thursday.
Dakota News Now and KOTA issued a joint statement on their website that said Goss had been terminated.
“We learned of the incident involving Austin Goss late last night. 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 court documents, former South Dakota GOP chairman Dan Lederman told authorities he received a call from a number that appeared to be Governor Kristi Noem’s personal cell phone. On January 23, 2023, Noem’s office revealed that the governor’s phone had been “hacked” and was being used to make prank calls.
Lederman confirmed to KELOLAND News that he received the call but declined to comment further.
The call is summarized in the probable cause document as follows:
“So now, you answer me this… Between the hours of midnight yesterday, and right now, where they disappear to?.. Did you check your basement? How many boxes of the Moderna where there?… Oh you think this is funny?… Yo! You’re making me say way too much on this line already… Marculo’s on the line here too. You best quit messing with me!… You know what? I’m going to tell you, I know what you said the other day…. You telling me, you didn’t tell Vito, that you were going to try to move the three boxes of that AstraZeneca outside this family?… You saying you ain’t said that?!… Oh, I’m getting so angry… You saying, you aint’ said that?!… You come here. Say it to my face…. Yeah, yeah I want you to say it to my face!… Hahahahahaha! You’ve just been pranked by PrankDial.com.”
Authorities traced the call through Midcontinent Communications to Goss’ Fort Pierre address. The investigation found that Goss had multiple personal and professional communications with the governor and that “it would stand to reason that Austin may have come in possession of Governor Noem’s personal phone number during one of these contacts.”
On Jan. 23, Noem said in a news release that her cell phone had been “hacked” and said she urged U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and multiple congressional committees to investigate leaks of information relating to her family. “I look forward to whatever resolution they can provide,” she said.
Ian Fury of the Governor’s office responded to a KELOLAND request for a statement or and response to questions. He said in an email, “The Governor’s Office will not be responding to the matter.”