Woman who coughed on market produce, claimed virus gets jail

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (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.

Margaret Ann Cirko, 37, pleaded guilty in June to a felony count of making bomb threats.

Authorities said Cirko entered a Gerrity’s Supermarket location in Hanover Township, near Wilkes-Barre, on March 25, 2020, and purposely coughed on fresh produce and other merchandise while yelling that she had the virus and that everyone would get sick.

Joe Fasula, co-owner of the supermarket chain, said that over $35,000 worth of merchandise had to be thrown out as a result of what Gerrity’s had 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.

Cirko apologized in court Tuesday.

“I wish I could take it back,” she said.

A Luzerne County judge 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.

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