By Janet Pickel
HARRISBURG, Pa — A woman accused of coughing throughout a Pennsylvania grocery store has been charged criminally in the incident, which led to the store throwing away $35,000 worth of items.
According to Hanover Twp. police in Luzerne County, Margaret Cirko, 35, “intentionally contaminated” meat, produce and other items around 2 p.m. March 25 at Gerrity’s Supermarket on Sans Souci Parkway. She made verbal threats, said she was sick and tried to steal a 12-pack of beer as employees ordered her to leave, police said.
Store co-owner Joe Fasula told the Times-Leader in Wilkes-Barre that more than $35,000 worth of goods had to be thrown away. He said he was “sick to his stomach” over the loss of the 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,” Fasula said.
Police said in a news release that Cirko was charged with terroristic threats, threats to use a “biological agent,” criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and criminal attempt to commit retail theft.
After her arrest, she was sent to a hospital for a mental health evaluation, police said.
She’s now in Luzerne County Prison on $50,000 bail. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 8.