A Lower Makefield man has been charged with terroristic threats and related offenses for coughing on a grocery store clerk and telling her he had just tested positive for coronavirus.
James Edelstein, 75, of the 2000 block of East Wellington Road, also faces charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub as well as a summary harassment charge for the April 28 incident at Redner’s Market in Middletown Township.
According to the probable cause filed Tuesday, Edelstein was standing about three feet from the victim when he removed his face mask and “coughed loudly” in the clerks direction.
The 75 year- old man told the woman “I just tested positive or COVID. Hope I do not spread my germs,” the complaint says, and then left the store.
Prior to the coughing incident, Edelstein had been waiting on a bench near the victim’s cash register, demanding to speak store management, complaining that another employee did not put his bags in his shopping cart, according to the criminal complaint
Edelstein told a Middletown Township Police officer he “wanted to cause a scene” to express his anger, court records show.
“These kids had an education about an unhappy customer. I am happy I caused a disturbance and disrupted the flow of things,” he told police.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said “I am proud of the way 99% of our citizens have handled themselves during this pandemic. The vast majority of us have adapted our behavior, followed the rules and treated each other with respect But whenever anyone seeks to weaponize this virus in order to terrorize another person just trying to do their job, we will prosecute him. We will protect our people serving us on the front lines by showing zero tolerance for criminal behavior like this.”
Edelstein was charged via summons issued Monday. This incident was investigated by the Middletown Township Police Department.
He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 25 in front of District Justice John J. Kelly Jr.