Margaret Ann Cirko sentenced up to two years jail for coughing on $35K worth of food while saying she had COVID-19 in an incident which the court described akin to making a bomb threat.
Terrorism of a coughing kind. A Pennsylvania woman who intentionally coughed and spat on food in a supermarket while screaming she had COVID-19 and threatening to make shoppers sick, was sentenced up to 2 years jail.
Margaret Ann Cirko, 37, apologized in court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to a felony charge of making bomb threats over the March 2020 incident in a Gerrity’s Supermarket near Wilkes-Barre.
Cirko was arrested after police say she went into the supermarket and started coughing all over the fresh produce, as well as the bakery and meat sections.
At the time, Cirko was observed screaming: ‘I have the virus, now you are all going to get sick.’
Joe Fasula, the co-owner of the supermarket chain, claimed they had to throw out $35,000 worth of food and products as a result of Cirko’s actions.
Judge upholds terrorism bomb threat
Fasula later described it as a ‘twisted prank’ but said customers and employees at the time were terrified they were going to get sick.
Given it took place at the beginning of the pandemic, Fasula said no one knew if the virus could spread on surfaces.
‘I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food. While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing,’ Fasula shared on Facebook after the incident in March 2020.
Of note, Cirko tested negative for COVID-19 after her arrest.
At the time of her arrest, Cirko was Cirko was initially charged with two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threat to use a ‘biological agent’ and one felony count of criminal mischief, as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors withdrew charges of making terroristic threats, criminal attempt to commit theft, and criminal mischief under Cirko’s plea agreement.
Thomas S. Cometa, Cirko’s attorney, tried to have the bomb threat charge dismissed after claiming the statute would require a mechanical device, not include bodily fluids, however the judge ultimately upheld the charge levied against her, the Times Leader reported last month.
‘A child of God’
Cometa went on to blame the ‘incident’ on Cirko being drunk.
Cirko apologized in court, saying: ‘I wish I could take it back.’
The judge, non plussed, condemned Cirko’s actions as ‘totally outrageous’ before sentencing her to one to two years in jail and eight years of probation.
Cirko has also been ordered to pay almost $30,000 in restitution and undergo a mental health evaluation.
In April of this year, Cirko was arrested again on unrelated charges after refusing to leave an area church while claiming that she was a ‘child of God.’
In the April case, Cirko pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of defiant trespassing where she was fined $276, the Morning Call reports.