A federal jury has found a man guilty of paying somebody to transmit the COVID-19 virus in supermarkets.
Christopher Charles Perez, 39, reportedly made the threat online in an attempt to discourage people from visiting the supermarkets, ostensibly to prevent the virus from spreading.
Prosecutors cited evidence showing two threatening Facebook chats in which Perez stated he bribed someone, who had COVID-19, to lick products in San Antonio stores.
Was there actually a threat?
The message was sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency investigated and concluded that there was no threat.
US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said: “Our community feels safer when we are free from this type of hoax threat. When Perez posted his threats online, his hoax posed a very real risk of spreading panic… at a time when the public was already facing the difficult challenges of a global pandemic.”
He added that the jury’s decision confirms that hoax threats like these deserve proper investigation and prosecution.
The Bottom Line
Perez was convicted on two counts of false information and hoaxes not related to biological weapons. He could face up to five years in prison.