Former legislator Lynne DiSanto charged for false reporting of strangulation

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 1:12 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A former South Dakota state senator is fighting a legal battle for allegedly reporting physical threats to her person and her life.

Lynne DiSanto appeared before the Seventh Circuit Court for one count of false reporting to law enforcement, a series of physical and verbal altercations between her and her ex-husband, Mark DiSanto.

DiSanto, who also goes by the names Lyndi DiSanto and Lynne Hix-DiSanto, was read her charges from the state by Magistrate Judge Todd Hyronimus on Thursday. Robert Pasqualucci, her attorney, did not appear in court during her first hearing.

False reporting to law enforcement is a class one misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a $2,000 fine.

Police Records

According to a preliminary report from Box Elder Police officer Christopher Swan, Mark DiSanto contacted Swan to ask him to keep the peace between him and his wife after she allegedly threatened him over text message at 4:56 p.m., Jan. 7, 2020. He also requested a police response in the event she would try to reach him in person.

Less than three hours later, Officer Swan was dispatched to 22739 Rando Ct. for reports of a disturbance. The report states that Lynne made her way to his residence and caused some disturbance. At that point, Mark had locked the doors to his home and kept Lynne from entered the home.

Upon Swan’s arrival, Lynne requested she privately speak with Swan to explain the situation. The officer’s account states the following: Lynne reported her husband had assaulted her the previous night while reclaiming some belongings left at his residence amid a divorce between the two. She told the officer that Mark had choked her, then punched a hole in the upstairs bedroom door. She claims his demeanor was “super aggressive,” and later spent the night at a friend’s house.

Lynne also alleged in the police interview Mark had assaulted her in the past but did not report it because of his position as an official. Lynne further claimed that her husband made death threats to her, saying Mark could “take her out on a hill, shoot her and no one would know he did it.”

A supporting report from the police department provides a transcription of an interview recorded over Swan’s body camera at 5:39 p.m.:

Lynne’s Account

"BEPD Swan: You said that he strangled you last night? Do you have any marks or anything? Did you ever lose consciousness?

L[ynne] Disanto: No Sir [sic], but do I have any marks? I don’t even know.

Swan: It’s hard to tell right now.

L DiSanto: I feel like I did. Last night.

Swan: Why didn’t you call the Police last night?

L DiSanto: Because he’s a *expletive* public official, he’s an elected public official, and I didn’t want to go.. get involved in **crosstalk** He’s a County Commissioner. And the last time we had an issue, where the Police got called... It made the news. I didn’t want the news to be involved. And to have to the police [sic] **crosstalk** to go there - because of who he is. I was trying to protect all that.

Mark’s Alibi

Later, at 5:45 p.m., Swan then met with Mark in his home to gather his account of the choking assault:

"BEPD Swan: What happened last night?

M[ark] DiSanto: What happened last night?

Swan: When [Lynne] came out about five o’clock.

M DiSanto: She never came here at five o’clock. If she did come here at five o’clock, she came here when I was not here. *Laughing* No, absolutely not.

Swan: She says she was here, and you guys had an argument. And that it got physical.

M Disanto: She is insane. No, no frickin way was I here at 5 last night. I was at pool league or playing racquetball.

Swan: What time did you get home last night?

M DiSanto: 10:45.

Swan: Was she here when you got home?

M DiSanto: No. Swan: So, here is where we’re at. She says, you grabbed her around the throat.

M DiSanto: Oh my God.

Swan: So, she does have marks around her throat. She’s claiming it’s from you. So, at this time, I’m placing you under arrest.

M DiSanto: You’ve got to be kidding me. How can I get arrested for something when I wasn’t even here?"

The transcription then indicates that Swan did not arrest Mark. Swan’s preliminary report states that Mark clarified his alibi - that he was playing racquetball with an acquaintance the evening of the assault - leading the officer to abandon the arrest attempt. The witness initially corroborated Mark’s alibi with the officer, but later stated they misspoke and instead saw Mark on Jan. 5, the day before the alleged choking.

The report continues by saying Swan could not determine if an assault occurred on Jan. 6, 2020. The officer then took scene photos, including images of a damaged door. Mark alleged his wife damaged the door over a year ago after “smash[ing] his head into the door.” Swan includes no evidence of injury to his hands that would have derived from Lynne’s claim that Mark punched in the door in a rage.

Phone Records

A supplementary report drafted by BEPD investigator Duane Peyrot discloses both Lynne and Mark DiSanto’s location based on landline phone traffic.

According to the cell records document, neither DiSanto was at Mark’s residence the night of the assault.

This is a developing story. We’ll provide you more details as they become available.

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