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Grocery store tossed out $35,000 worth of food after woman coughed all over store

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Hanover Township — Township police said criminal charges will be filed against a woman who they say “intentionally contaminated produce/meat/merchandise for sale” at Gerrity’s Supermarket on Sans Souci Parkway on Wednesday.

“The suspect has been identified and is being evaluated at a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. Criminal charges will be filed,” police posted on their Facebook page.

Police were assisted by the township health officer, state Department of Agriculture, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office and the state police.

According to Gerrity’s Supermarkets co-owner Joe Fasula, the woman’s attempt at a prank will cost the store over $35,000 worth of produce.

In a post uploaded to the Gerrity’s Facebook page on Wednesday, Fasula says that a woman well known in the Hanover Township area as a “chronic problem in the community” entered the store around 2:20 p.m. and proceeded to cough all over the produce section, as well as parts of the bakery, meat case and grocery.

The woman was removed from the store as quickly as possible by Gerrity’s employees, and Fasula says that he’s been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office, who will be “aggressively pursuing numerous charges” against the woman.

“We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with,” Fasula said. “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.”

Fasula estimates that over $35,000 worth of goods will have to be thrown away. He added that he is “sick to his stomach” over the loss of the 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,” Fasula said.

The woman involved is not believed to be infected with COVID-19, but Fasula says that they “will make every effort to make sure that she is tested.”

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