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Woman who coughed on $35K of groceries charged with terror threat

by Deena Caraway (2020-05-09)

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Pennsylvania woman Margaret Cirko, 35, was arrested Thursday after deliberately coughing on produce in local grocery store and charged with making terrorist threats


A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly coughed on $35,000 worth of grocery store products claiming she was ill in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in a cruel prank has been arrested.

Margaret Cirko, 35, was charged with terrorist threats on Thursday, one day after she allegedly entered Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township and coughed all over its products.

On Wednesday she entered the busy store and threatened patrons, saying she was sick then intentionally coughed and spat on fresh produce and other items in the store, Hanover Township Police said.

She continued this behavior 'in several aisles before attempting to steal a 12-pack of beer as she was being ordered to leave the store by employees', police said. 

Cirko is not believed to be infected with COVID-19, but the store owners had no choice but to throw out some of the merchandise she coughed worth more than $35,000 including fresh produce, some bakery products, meat and other shelves of goods. 






On Wednesday she entered Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township and coughed and spit all over its products claiming she was ill amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured in a police car after her arrest on Thursday March 26







Following the coughing incident she was sent for mental health evaluation at a local hospital. Police said they would test her for COVID-19 as well







Cirko was charged with two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threat to use a 'biological agent' and one felony count of criminal mischief. She also faces misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and disorderly conduct. A judge arraigns Cirko on Thursday from a police car and handed her the charges


'I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food. While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing,' Joe Fasula, the store's co-owner, shared on Facebook Wednesday.

After the incident the store deep cleaned its shelves to assure it was safe. 

'Today was a very challenging day. While there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers,' Fasula said on Facebook. 

The store and Hanover's health inspector worked together to identify every area the suspect was in and the store was scrubbed clean by more than 15 employees, putting the store's safety protocols to the test. 






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Cirko is not believed to be infected with COVID-19, but the store owners had no choice but to throw out some of the merchandise she coughed on worth more than $35,000. Gerrity's supermarket owner Joe Fasula pictured talking about the incident on Thursday 







After the incident 15 supermarket employees deep cleaned the supermarket. Joe Fasula pictured restocking shelves after Cirko coughed on $35,000 worth of produce and meat, threatening to expose people to the novel coronavirus 


Cirko was charged with two felony counts of terrorist threats, one felony count of threat to use a 'biological agent' and one felony count of criminal mischief.

She also faces misdemeanor counts of criminal attempt to commit retail theft and 쿠팡 생필품 disorderly conduct.

Following the coughing incident she was sent for mental health evaluation at a local hospital. Police said they would test her for COVID-19 as well.






Gerrity's Supermarket shared this post to customers after the incident, adding, 'don't cough on anything'







The exterior of Gerrity's grocery store in Hanover Township pictured above


She was arraigned on Thursday and her bail at $50,000.

She's being held at Luzerne County Prison and a preliminary hearing is set for April 8, cops said.

Fasula shared an update on Facebook to his customers writing that it's been 'an eventful two days for our family business.' He said the produce department was fully restocked by 2pm Thursday.

He shared a reminder of shopping rules on Facebook to customers Thursday and joked, 'don't cough on anything.'   

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