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South Dakota TV reporter charged with pranking governor

Austin Goss was fired by Gray Television and KOTA over allegations that he placed a threatening phone call to a Republican Party leader.

Austin Goss was fired by Gray Television and KOTA over allegations that he placed a threatening phone call to a Republican Party leader.

Former KOTA television reporter Austin Goss. (Goss image via Facebook, South Dakota capitol image via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)
Former KOTA television reporter Austin Goss. (Goss image via Facebook, South Dakota capitol image via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

A South Dakota television news reporter was criminally charged with harassment after he allegedly used the personal phone number of that state’s governor to make a prank phone call.

This week, Gray Television and its Rapid City station KOTA (Channel 3, ABC) said Austin Goss, 25, was fired after an arrest warrant was issued following a harassing phone call made to the former chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party, Dan Lederman.

According to police, Goss used a smartphone app called Prank Dial to make the harassing call. To mask his identity, he made the call appear as if it was coming from the cell phone number of Governor Kristi Noem, whose personal information had leaked online in a separate incident.

Investigators were ultimately able to trace the call back to Goss, and he was arrested earlier this month. At the time of his arrest, Goss worked as the South Dakota Capitol bureau chief for Gray Television and was based in Pierre.

Lederman told the Argus Leader newspaper that he had received annoying text messages and calls from Goss in the past, but was particularly disturbed by the prank phone call because it was designed to appear as if the call was placed by a member of the Mafia.

Goss was ultimately charged with making “threatening, harassing or misleading contacts,” a misdemeanor in South Dakota that could earn him one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If he is convicted, any actual sentence will be determined on his prior criminal history, willingness to accept responsibility and other factors.

Prior to working for Gray Television, Goss worked as a Capitol correspondent for Empower Texans, where he covered political and policy matters for the publication. His resume also lists an eight-year stint in the South Dakota Army National Guard, as well as an assistant manager’s role at a local Domino’s restaurant in the Austin area.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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