Woman Gets Jail After 'Twisted' COVID Stunt in Supermarket

Margaret Ann Cirko gets 1 to 2 years for claiming she had virus, coughing on food
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 25, 2021 1:15 PM CDT
She Said She Had COVID, Coughed on Food. Now, Jail
Margaret Ann Cirko sits in a police car after her arrest on March 26, 2020, in Hanover Township, Pa.   (Aimee Dilger/The Times Leader via AP)

A Pennsylvania woman who pleaded guilty to coughing and spitting on food at a supermarket in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic was sentenced Tuesday to at least a year in jail, per the AP. Margaret Ann Cirko, 37, pleaded guilty in June to a felony count of making bomb threats. Authorities say Cirko entered a Gerrity's Supermarkets location in Hanover Township, near Wilkes-Barre, on March 25, 2020, and purposely coughed on fresh produce and other merchandise while yelling she had the virus and that everyone would get sick. Joe Fasula, co-owner of the supermarket chain, said that more than $35,000 worth of merchandise had to be thrown out as a result of what Gerrity's called a "twisted prank."

Cirko tested negative for COVID-19, according to her attorney, who said she was intoxicated at the time of the incident. The Times Leader notes her case is unusual in that there don't appear to be similar ones in which bodily fluids have been considered to be a weapon of mass destruction. Cirko apologized in court Tuesday. "I wish I could take it back," she said. Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough replied, "I do, too," per the Morning Call. Vough called Cirko's conduct "totally outrageous" and sentenced her to one to two years in jail, to be followed by eight years of probation. She also was ordered to pay nearly $30,000 in restitution.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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