KEY POINTS

  • George Falcone was charged with making a terrorist threat, obstruction, and harassment for an alleged incident at a New Jersey Wegman's on Sunday
  • A female employee said she was uncomfortable with how close Falcone was allegedly standing to her and a food display when she asked him to take a few steps back
  • Falcone allegedly coughed on the woman and said he had coronavirus and insulted another two employees before a local police officer reportedly confronted him

New Jersey police charged a man Tuesday for allegedly saying he had the coronavirus and coughing on a supermarket employee.

George Falcone, 50, reportedly was at a Wegmans store Sunday night in Manalapan, New Jersey, and was confronted after the incident by a police detective, who was working security detail. Falcone was charged with harassment, fourth-degree obstruction and third-degree making terrorist threats.

The charge of making terrorist threats carries up to a five-year prison sentence and a fine up to $15,000. The obstruction charge carries a possible 18-month prison sentence and a fine up to $10,000. The harassment charge carries a possible 6-month jail sentence and a fine up to $1,000.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal confirmed a summons was issued Tuesday.

A female employee said Falcone had allegedly been standing close to her and a display of prepared foods. She asked if Falcone could take a few steps back because she was uncomfortable, but he allegedly got closer and began coughing on her. He then said he had the coronavirus before confronting two other employees and telling them they were lucky to have jobs.

The detective was told about the incident and approached Falcone. The detective said he asked Falcone to identify himself but Falcone allegedly refused to cooperate and didn’t provide his driver’s license. It continued for 40 minutes until Falcone identified himself and was allowed to leave. 

“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,” Attorney General Grewal said.

“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.”