N.J. Man Faces Charges for Allegedly Coughing on Grocery Worker, Saying He Had Coronavirus

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A New Jersey man who is accused of coughing on a supermarket employee, allegedly claiming he had the coronavirus and then laughing, has been charged with making terrorist threats.

On Sunday evening, 50-year-old George Falcone went into a Wegmans supermarket in Manalapan and allegedly began coughing on an employee, telling her he had the coronavirus, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced in news release obtained by PEOPLE.

The employee told police before the incident that she had noticed Falcone because she felt he was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared food.

When she asked him to step back as she covered the food, Falcone allegedly “stepped forward to within 3 feet of her, leaned toward her and purposely coughed,” the press release states. “He allegedly laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus. Falcone subsequently told two other employees they are lucky to have jobs.”

A Manalapan Police Department detective who was working on security detail at the store spoke with Falcone, who for 40 minutes refused to identify himself. When he did, he was permitted to leave.

On Tuesday, Falcone was charged with Terroristic Threats, Obstructing Administration of Law or Other Governmental Function, and Harassment.

“These are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other — not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case,” Grewal said in a statement.

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“Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible. In times like these, we need to find ways to pull together as a community instead of committing acts that further divide us,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Attorney information was not available Thursday. If found guilty of all three charges, Falcone could face up to 7 years in prison.

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