Lots of happenings swirling around in the background in the matter of Austin Goss, the now former political reporter for Dakota News Now, who lost his job after sending a prank phone call to former South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman falsifying the identifying information in the prank call to that of Governor Kristi Noem’s personal cell phone number.
What am I hearing is happening in the matter?
- In addition to having lost his job as a reporter with Dakota News Now,
I’m told Goss also incurred a penalty in his position with the South Dakota National Guard for his actions.(Update: I’m receiving conflicting information on this, so this is not confirmed at this point.)
- It appears that the matter is moving forward and being disposed of today as opposed to May 23, which had been entered in some court documents. I understand it’s a full court docket, so it may be happening later in the afternoon.
- A deal has been struck where a written apology will be made to the victim(s) prior to the entry of a plea.
- As opposed to the original charge of SDCL 49-31-31(5)(b), the crime of making threatening, harassing, or misleading contacts, the word is that the State’s Attorney will allow the matter to be pled down to disorderly conduct, which is a class 2 misdemeanor. Which has a potential penalty of up to 30 days’ imprisonment and $500 in fines.
Given Goss’ lack of a criminal record, I heard that a “suspended imposition of sentence” could be requested in this case if allowed by the judge. Which would mean that the court record for his actions could be sealed and erased at some point, as if they never happened. Which is not shocking in the big scheme of things.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the charges we’re discussing in either case are misdemeanor offenses. They’re often disposed of with a fine, as opposed to any jail time. That was always going to be the result whether it was a class 1 or a class 2 misdemeanor. This just ended up being a weirder offense against the laws of the people.
On the other side of the scales of justice, for all the talk of the people trying to pooh-pooh this as just being a prank call, the person whose number was spoofed did not find it humorous, nor did the call recipient. And it’s not like Goss popped up right away and said “gotcha – ha ha.” He didn’t fess up until he was compelled to by Law Enforcement. Investigatory resources had to dig in to figure out who and where it originated from.
Ultimately the shock to his employment record is far worse than any couple hundred dollar fine that would be levied. But I think we’d all agree that a message has been sent that people don’t care for spoofed phone calls.