WASHINGTON:The attorney general of the US state of New Jersey charged a man with terrorism for intentionally coughing on a grocery store worker and claiming to have the coronavirus.
On March 22, an employee at Wegmans, an American supermarket chain, asked 50-year-old shopper George Falcone to stand back, feeling as though he was too close to her.
In response, Falcone stepped closer to the employee, leaned in, and coughed on her, claiming to be infected with COVID-19.
He then told two other employees of the store they are “lucky to have jobs,” according to US media.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said spreading fear is unacceptable during the COVID-19 crisis.
“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,” Grewal said in a statement.
“We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency.”
Grewal charged Falcone with terrorism in the third degree and obstructing the administration of law in the fourth degree, given the current coronavirus crisis.
The terrorism charge carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison, while the obstruction charge carries a sentence of up to 18 months.
The Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, called Falcone a “knucklehead” during a press conference.