George Falcone Freehold NJ man charged with making terrorist threat after coughing on Wegmans, Manalapan, store worker and saying he was infected w/ coronavirus.
A Freehold, NJ man has been charged with making terrorist threats after coughing on a supermarket worker after the employee expressed concern of the man getting too close to her, only for him to laugh at her announce he was infected with coronavirus.
The criminal charges follow the worker having expressed ‘genuine concern’ that George Falcone, 50, was standing too close to her at an open display of prepared foods at Wegmans on Route 9 in Manalapan, on Sunday, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said Tuesday.
She asked him to step back as she covered the food, only for Falcone to get closer, leaning over the worker and purposely coughing, Grewal said.
Then he ‘laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus,’ the attorney general said.
During the incident, Falcone is alleged to have also told two other employees they were ‘lucky to have jobs,’ Grewal added.
A Manalapan police detective was working security at the store and approached Falcone, demanding he provide his name or driver’s license, only to refuse, the attorney general said.
It took 40 minutes before Falcone finally identified himself and was allowed to leave, he added.
Summonses were issued Tuesday charging Falcone with making terroristic threats, obstruction and harassment.
New Jersey: George Falcone is alleged to have “stepped forward to within 3 feet of her, leaned toward her, and purposely coughed.” He also allegedly laughed and said he had #COVID19.
Falcone now faces charges of terroristic threats and harassment. https://t.co/7LJvMTHubN
— Steve Rose (@steveplrose) March 24, 2020
Incident latest in string of ‘terrorist episodes relating to coronavirus:
Anyone else who wants to pull a similar stunt will find themselves charged, as well, Grewal warned.
‘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,’ the attorney general said.
‘We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency,” he added. “Just as we are cracking down on bias offenses and those who use the pandemic to fuel hatred and prejudice, we vow to respond swiftly and strongly whenever someone commits a criminal offense that uses the coronavirus to generate panic or discord.’
‘It sickens me to think an individual would lower their basic human standards during a time of crisis such as we are experiencing,’ Manalapan Police Chief Michael Fountain said.
‘Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible,’ Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni added. ‘In times like these, we need to find ways to pull together as a community instead of committing acts that further divide us.’
The incident is the latest of a string of episodes which have caused havoc and panic to members of the public as can be seen in these recent reports below.