Man charged with making terroristic threats after allegedly coughing on food-store worker, telling her he had Coronavirus

This one happened outside our coverage area, but it was too — unthinkable — to not share with our readers.

Criminal charges were filed today against a man who allegedly coughed on a food store employee in Manalapan, and told the woman that he has the coronavirus, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced Tuesday, March 25.

George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, was charged today by complaint-summons with the following criminal offenses:

  • Making terroristic threats
  • Obstructing administration of law or other governmental function
  • Harassment (a petty disorderly persons offense)

According to Grewal:

The incident occurred at about 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 22, at a Wegmans on Rt. 9. The employee was concerned Falcone was standing too close to her and an open display of prepared foods, so she requested 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.

A detective of the Manalapan Police Department was working a security detail at the store and approached Falcone, who allegedly refused to cooperate or provide his name or driver’s license. After approximately 40 minutes, Falcone identified himself and was permitted to leave.

Following additional investigation, summonses were issued today which will require Falcone to appear in court at a later date.

The case will be prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice within the Attorney General’s Office. Grewal thanked the Manalapan Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office for their strong response to the incident and investigation leading to today’s charges.

“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 (is) alleged in this case,” 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.”

“Exploiting people’s fears and creating panic during a pandemic emergency is reprehensible. In times like these, we need to find ways to pull together as a community instead of committing acts that further divide us,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.

If convicted, Falcone could face more than a year behind bars for his actions, Grewal said.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.