DA Says Man Coughed On Grocery Store Cashier, Claimed He Had COVID

Redner's Market in the Langhorne Shopping Center on Lincoln Highway. Photo via Google Maps.

An elderly Lower Makefield man is facing several charges for allegedly saying he had coronavirus after coughing on an employee at Redner’s Market in Middletown.

“I just tested positive for COVID. Hope I do not spread my germs,” James Edelstein told the cashier, according to a criminal complaint.

Edelstein, 75, is charged with making terroristic threats and simple assault among other charges. The incident occurred on April 28, according to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.

An affidavit from the Middletown Township Police Department states Edelstein was not pleased with his shopping experience. He “wanted to cause a scene.”

“These kids had an education about an unhappy customer. I am happy I caused a disturbance and disrupted the flow of things.”

Authorities say Edelstein had demanded to speak to a manager. He was angry a separate employee did not put his bags in his cart.

As Edelstein waited, sitting on a bench, he grew increasingly frustrated. So, he decided to take out his anger on the nearest employee.

Edelstein took off his mask and coughed on the victim, who was standing three feet away, according to police.

“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,” said District Attorney Matthew Weintraub.

“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.”

In addition, Edelstein faces one count of disorderly conduct and a summary harassment charge.