You will never guess why New Jersey man George Falcone is back in the news again. Or maybe you would. It has been that kind of year.
The pizzeria owner, who faces an ongoing criminal case for allegedly coughing on a supermarket employee, called the police on a Trentonian reporter who was writing about him selling masks from the restaurant.
I was contacted by a Bordentown Township Police detective today after a pizzeria owner didn’t like that I called him out for allegedly coughing on @Wegmans worker and now selling masks at his pizza joint. Read more @Trentonian https://t.co/bAjGZcLViu
— Isaac Avilucea (@IsaacAvilucea) April 27, 2020
You might remember Falcone as the defendant in a story we wrote last month, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities said he was standing close to a Wegmans employee while she was tending to an open display of foods. She asked that he step back, but he instead got closer and coughed at her on purpose, according the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal on March 24. He allegedly laughed, claimed to be infected with the coronavirus, and told two employees they were lucky to have jobs. A detective with the Manalapan Police Department was doing security detail at the store, and intervened, the state said.
This story alone doesn’t make Falcone unique. It’s not hard to find other stories of people who allegedly dismissed the COVID-19 pandemic before coughing at others on purpose. This new development sets him apart, however. He was allegedly selling face masks for $4 each from his business, Rosario’s Pizza, in Bordentown. A customer told The Trentonian in an April 27 report that he was there the previous week. This person provided photos of a box of black masks behind the counter.
“I saw the masks next to the pizza and said, ‘This is f**king crazy.'” the customer said. “How comical and hypocritical that he’s coughing on an employee, allegedly, when people are dying from this, and now he’s selling masks to make a profit. That’s wild.”
Falcone actually confirmed to the outlet that he’d been selling the masks until he ran out, but the interview grew hostile because reporter Isaac Avilucea asked the defendant if he was concerned about the sale amid the criminal case.
“What does this have to do with your question about face masks here?” Falcone said. “I’m going to ask you not to ask any more questions about that, and I will refer you to my attorney, and you can talk to him.”
But Falcone didn’t provide attorney information. The Trentonian reached out one more time, and Falcone threatened to sic the cops on them for harassment.
It’s worth mentioning that Falcone is charged with harassment, terroristic threats, and obstructing administration of law or other governmental function for the Wegmans incident.
Anyway, the Trentonian said they reached out one more time to get the attorney information. No answer at Rosario’s, but a detective contacted the outlet shortly after and said to leave Falcone alone.
“If you continue to call him, it becomes harassment,” the investigator said. “He doesn’t have to speak to you. He doesn’t have to speak to us. Everyone has a Fifth Amendment right, the right to remain silent as well.”
Law&Crime reached out to local police for comment, and left a message for Falcone with a pizzeria employee over the phone. Neither party immediately responded.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[Image via New Jersey Office of the Attorney General]
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