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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Mar 25, 2020

Freehold Man Charged After Intentionally Coughing On Grocery Store Employee

A Freehold man has been charged with making a terroristic threat after purposely coughing on a grocery employee and claiming he had COVID-19.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold Township, had been shopping at Wegmans supermarket in Manalapan on Tuesday when a store employee asked him to step back a few feet. The employee felt as though the customer was too close in regards to safety from the virus. Falcone proceeded to cough on the employee, laughing and telling her he “had coronavirus,” and subsequently told employees at the store they were “lucky” to have jobs.

A Manalapan detective happened to be working security at the time of the incident and approached Falcone who refused to give his name at the time. Falcone ultimately identified himself and received a summons.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said spreading fear is unacceptable during this emergency.

โ€œThese are extremely difficult times in which all of us are called upon to be considerate of each other โ€” not to engage in intimidation and spread fear, as alleged in this case,โ€ Grewal said in the statement. “We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency.”

The US Justice Department has announced that during this time, anyone who threatens to infect people with COVID-19 could face federal charges.