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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Margaret Cirko's Criminal Cough

     On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at two-thirty in the afternoon, 35-year-old Margaret Cirko walked into a Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania. Cirko, known in the community as a chronic pain-in-the-neck, announced in a loud voice: "I have the virus, now you are all going to get sick!" After saying this, Cirko purposely coughed into the meat case and on food in the bakery and produce sections of the store.

     Having pulled off this outrageous, disgusting stunt, Margaret Cirko picked up a 12-pack of beer and tried leaving the store without paying for it.

     Shortly after disgracing herself the supermarket, officers with the Hanover Township Police Department took Cirko into custody. A Luzerne County prosecutor charged Cirko with felony counts of terroristic threats, threats to use a biological agent, and criminal mischief. She was also charged with the misdemeanor offenses of disorderly conduct and attempted retail theft.

     Following a mental evaluation at a local hospital, Cirko was booked into the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. A magistrate set her bail at $50,000.

     While Margaret Cirko was not infected with the virus, Gerrity employees had to dispose of the food she had coughed on. This outlandish, mean-spirited prank cost the store $35,000.

     While it would be comforting to believe that intentionally and publicly coughing on groceries when food is scarce amid a growing public health crisis is a one-of-a kind criminal act, that is not the case. For example, on March 19, 2020, in Purcellville, Virginia, a group of juveniles recorded themselves coughing on grocery store produce. In an act of frightening stupidity, the juveniles posted the video on social media. The tainted food had to be thrown away.  

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