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Grocery Store Throws Out $35k of Produce After Woman Coughs on it as a Prank

As if grocery stores aren't dealing with enough, one small grocery chain, Gerrity's Supermarket, had to dispose of over $35,000 worth of food after a Pennsylvania woman thought it would be funny to cough all over the produce, the meat department, and the bakery.

Gerrity's Supermarket Throws Away Product Due to Prank Gone Wrong

According to the PA homepage, the woman, known as Margaret Cirko, walked into the store in Hanover Township, Luzerne County around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon and started yelling at customers and employees. She walked into the store and allegedly started coughing on all the produce, and yelled out to everyone, "I have the virus and now you are all going to get sick."

Witnesses of the twisted prank say that she coughed and spit near the bakery section and the deli, as well as around the fresh produce.

The store shared a post on Facebook for the community:

***Update ****Our produce department was fully stocked by 2 PM today (Thursday). Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to get everything back to normal. I've included pictures of the final result below. Outstanding job!!! ***************Today was a very challenging day. At 2:20 PM today, I got a call from our Hanover Township store. The manager informed me that a ?woman, who the police know to be a chronic problem in the community, came into the store and proceeded to purposely cough on our fresh produce, and a small section of our bakery, meat case, and grocery.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. We had no choice but to throw out all of the products she came in contact with. Working closely with the Hanover Township health inspector, we identified every area that she was in, we disposed of the product and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything.Although we have not yet quantified the total loss,? we estimate the value to be well over $35,000. We are checking to see if our insurance company will cover it, but even if they do, our rates will surely go up next year. 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.Our incredible team did the best they could to get the woman out of the store as fast as possible. The police were contacted immediately and the case has been escalated to the District Attorney's Office. They have assured me that they will be aggressively pursuing numerous charges. In addition, while we do not believe the woman is truly infected, they will make every effort to see that she is tested. The only silver lining to this travesty is that it gave us the unfortunate opportunity to test our protocols and demonstrate how seriously we take your safety. At one point, we had over 15 employees involved in the disposal and clean up. I would like to thank every member of our organization who pitched in today to help, especially those of you who came in on your day off and those who stayed late. I would also like to thank the people who will be going in early tomorrow to get the departments restocked. One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast PA. -Joe Fasula Co-owner

Joe Fasula, co-owner of the store, shared he couldn't believe someone would do such a horrible thing in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak. "When I first got the call, I was speechless. I was really dumbfounded as to why somebody would do that," Fasula shares with PA Homepage, "My first thought was the fact that we are just going to have to throw the food out all this food and it's so hard to get right now."

Margaret Cirko was arrested by the Township police and has been tested for covid-19. She currently faces numerous counts including terroristic threats and related charges, with up to 20 years in prison. Currently, she is unable to pay the $50,000 bail and will be participating in her hearing next month.

This article was originally published on March 27, 2020

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