Is this just creepy behavior or a criminal act of making a terrorist threat? Fifty-year-old George Falcone was arrested after he coughed on a supermarket worker and told her he had the coronavirus.
According to the state’s attorney general Gurbir Grewal, an employee inside the store asked Falcone to move away from prepared foods while she covered them up.
It is alleged that at this point Falcone leaned towards the woman and deliberately coughed on her and laughed, telling her he had coronavirus.
Falcone went on to tell two other employees that they were lucky to have jobs, and initially refused to identify himself when approached by a police officer, according to prosecutors.
Falcone was charged with making terroristic threats, obstruction of law, and harassment. He faces up to 7 years in prison and hefty fines.
New Jersey’s governor couldn’t resist the opportunity to horn in on the publicity surrounding the incident.
Murphy, a Democrat, said George Falcone, 50, was charged with terroristic threats, harassment and obstruction, NJ.com reported. The alleged incident happened at the Wegmans grocery store chain’s location in Manalapan, some 50 miles south of New York City.
“There are knuckleheads out there. We see them and we are enforcing behavior,” Murphy said during a news briefing.
It appears Mr. Falcone is to be made an example of. It certainly gives the state a golden opportunity to enforce “behavior.”
“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,” 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,” he added.
Was that really Mr. Falcone’s intent? Or was he just being an S.O.B.? If Falcone had actually been infected, it would be a different story. He could have been charged with assault — at the very least. But acting stupidly should not be a criminal offense. Yes, the store clerk was scared. But tell the jerk to take a hike and move on with your life.
Criminalizing creepy behavior is not a valid response to this crisis.