A New Jersey man has been charged with making terroristic threats after he coughed on a Wegmans employee and said he had the coronavirus

mmark@businessinsider.com (Michelle Mark)
A Wegmans supermarket in Pennsylvania.

James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

  • New Jersey prosecutors have charged a man with making terroristic threats, alleging he coughed on a Wegmans worker and told her he had the coronavirus.
  • Authorities said the incident occurred after the employee asked the man to step further away from her and an open food display.
  • In response, the man leaned forward and deliberately coughed, then laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus, prosecutors said.
  • A Missouri man was also charged with making a terroristic threat after he filmed himself licking deodorants in a Walmart and asked, "Who's scared of the coronavirus?" 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A New Jersey man is facing charges of making terroristic threats after he coughed on a grocery-store employee and told her he had the coronavirus, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

George, Falcone, 50, is facing three counts of third-degree terroristic threats, obstructing the administration of law, and harassment.

According to prosecutors, the incident occurred at a Wegmans grocery store on March 22, after an employee grew concerned that Falcone was standing too close to her and an open food display.

George Falcone, 50, has been charged with making a terroristic threat.

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General

The employee covered the food and asked Falcone to step back, but Falcone stepped closer to her, within three feet, leaned forward, and deliberately coughed, prosecutors said.

"He allegedly laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus," prosecutors said in a statement.

Then, Falcone told two other Wegmans employees they were lucky to have jobs, according to prosecutors.

New Jersey Attorney General Gubrir Grewal said in a statement that the charges against Falcone were intended to deter similar conduct amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The state has reported nearly 4,000 coronavirus cases and 44 deaths.

"Exploiting people's fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible," Grewal said. "In times like these, we need to find ways to pull together as a community instead of committing acts that further divide us."

Falcone is not the first to face terroristic threat charges in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. One Missouri man who filmed himself licking deodorants in a Walmart and asking, "Who's scared of the coronavirus?" has also been charged with making a terroristic threat.

The Department of Justice is also considering pressing federal anti-terrorism charges against people who intentionally spread the coronavirus.

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