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Pennsylvania coughing ‘prank’ suspect arrested, charged after $35K in groceries tossed

Margaret Ann Cirko sits in a police car after her arrest Thursday in Hanover Township, Pa. (Associated Press)

Authorities in Pennsylvania have identified the suspect accused of coughing on an estimated $35,000 worth of grocery store products in what they say was a “twisted prank” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Margaret Cirko, 35, was arrested and charged with terrorist threats Thursday, one day after she allegedly entered Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township, made verbal threats that she was sick, and intentionally coughed and spat on fresh produce and other items, according to the Hanover Township Police Department.

Cirko, known for past problems in the community, continued the behavior in several aisles, police said, adding that she tried to steal a 12 pack of beer before being ordered to leave the store.

“I am also absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food,” Joe Fasula, the store’s co-owner, wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “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 Cirko coughed on the store’s fresh produce as well as portions of its bakery, meat case, and grocery shelves in what he called “a twisted prank.”

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