NJ man faces terroristic threat charge after ‘purposefully’ coughing on woman at Wegmans
FREEHOLD, N.J. — New Jersey prosecutors charged a man accused of coughing on another individual in stores and claiming that he was infecting with the coronavirus.
George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, is accused of having deliberately coughed on a Wegmans Food Markets employee, according to an official statement from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Tuesday, March 24.
Falcone reportedly then told the woman he had the coronavirus in the incident which happened at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22 in Manalapan.
Prosecutors said the woman was concerned that Falcone was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared food, so she asked him to step back as she covered the food.
Instead, prosecutors said he stepped forward, leaned toward her, and “purposely coughed” in her direction. Falcone then reportedly laughed, and said he was infected with the coronavirus. Reports said he also told two other store employees that they were lucky to have jobs.
When approached by a detective in the store following the incident, Falcone allegedly refused to cooperate or provide his name or driver’s license.
After approximately 40 minutes, Falcone finally identified himself and was permitted to leave. Prosecutors said terroristic threats, obstruction, and harassment charges were filed against Falcone.
“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.
The incident was not isolated as Falcone joined other U.S. citizens facing charges for similar actions.
In Pennsylvania, North Middletown Township police alleged that a man deliberately coughed in the face of a recovering pneumonia patient and repeatedly claimed he was infected with the coronavirus.
Daniel Tabussi, 57, of Carlisle, was charged with terroristic threats, simple assault, disorderly conduct. and harassment in the incident Friday, March 20 in a grocery store near Carlisle. Police alleged Tabussi approached the older man, who was wearing a medical face mask and gloves because of the potential fatal risk from COVID-19.
Police alleged Tabussi deliberately made coughing sounds near the man, while he smiled and laughed. They alleged Tabussi mocked the man for wearing a mask and told him that he was infected with the coronavirus.
A message was left at Tabussi’s home phone seeking comment.