A man who claimed to have paid someone infected with COVID-19 to lick items at Texas grocery stores could soon find himself in prison.
This week, a federal jury convicted Christopher Charles Perez, 40, of two counts of providing false information about biological weapons. He faces up to 10 years in prison and sentencing is set for the fall.
Perez posted two messages on Facebook where he claimed to pay someone infected with COVID-19 to lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio, Texas, area, prosecutors said. Perez hoped to scare other people from visiting the stores.
In April, a screenshot of the posts was forwarded to the FBI for investigation.
Prosecutors stressed that the post was false and nobody was paid to lick items.
“Our community feels safer when we are free from this type of hoax threat. When Perez posted his threats on-line, his hoax posed a very real risk of spreading panic throughout our community at a time when the public was already facing the difficult challenges of a global pandemic. The jury verdict today affirms that hoax threats such as this merit investigation and prosecution,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in announcing the conviction.