A New Jersey man who allegedly coughed on a Wegmans supermarket employee and laughed when he said he had tested positive for the coronavirus was charged Tuesday with making a terroristic threat, among other charges, officials said.
George Falcone, 50, from Freehold, N.J., was charged with making terroristic threats, obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function and harassment after the incident occurred Sunday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) said in a statement.
A Wegmans employee reportedly asked Falcone to step back after he was “standing too close to her” and an open display of prepared food Sunday evening.
The employee covered her food while asking him, according to the attorney general’s office.
Instead, Falcone moved closer, leaned forward within three feet of her and purposefully coughed, while laughing and saying he was infected with the virus.
He also allegedly told two employees they were “lucky to have jobs,” Grewal said.
A Manalapan Police Department detective who was working a security detail at the store approached Falcone — who refused to give up his name or driver’s license for 40 minutes, Grewal said.
Falcone will appear in court “at a later date,” according to the statement.
He could face up to seven years in prison and up to a $26,000 fine.
“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. “We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency.
Grewal didn’t say whether Falcone actually has coronavirus.
The Department of Justice’s deputy attorney general sent a memo Tuesday saying that people can face federal terrorism charges for “purposeful exposure and infection.”