Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that charges are being brought against a man who got into a dispute of a supermarket employee who “coughed on the woman and told her after doing so that he had coronavirus.”
George Falcone, a 50-year-old Freehold resident, is being charged with making terroristic threats, harassment and obstruction of justice, Murphy said.
The event occurred at the Wegmans in Manalapan.
According to the state attorney general’s office, “The incident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, at the Wegmans on US Highway 9. The employee was concerned that Falcone was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared foods, so she requested that he step back as she covered the food. Instead, Falcone allegedly stepped forward to within 3 feet of her, leaned toward her, and purposely coughed. He allegedly laughed and said he was infected with the coronavirus. Falcone subsequently told two other employees they are lucky to have jobs.”
According to Murphy, the man refused to cooperate with the police and wouldn’t give his name or drivers license for more than 40 minutes.
“It demonstrates active law enforcement in the steps we are taking,” Murphy said. “We are up and down the state and we will not take any non-compliant behavior, never mind egregious behavior like this.
“Just to prove that there are … knuckleheads out there,” the governor said.
“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,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency. 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.”
This story was updated at 5:20 PM.