TRENTON, NJ - A Flemington man is charged with making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, among other charges, after he allegedly coughed on police officers and claimed to have coronavirus, according to a report from the state attorney general's office.
According to a release, the attorney general has taken over the prosecution of six cases and is filing upgrades charges against defendants who allegedly threatened police officers by spitting or coughing at them and claiming to have COVID-19.
Kenneth Wideman, Jr., 30, is charged with second degree terroristic threats during a state of emergency; fourth degree aggravated assault on an officer; fourth degree endangering; fourth degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer; third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance and related disorderly persons offenses.
During his arrest on March 19, the release said, Wideman allegedly yelled in the faces of the officers, coughed and spit at them and claimed to have coronavirus. In addition, the release said, he refused police commands to wear a mask.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in the release that those violating the COVID-19 emergency orders will face strong law enforcement action.
"Police all across New Jersey are making good on that vow by charging violators with crimes," he said in the release. "Now, with the cases being announced today, we're letting our dedicated officers know that we have their backs as they work tirelessly to maintain public safety and health at this difficult time."
Veronica Allende, director of the division of criminal justice, said in the release that they have taken over these criminal cases to ensure they are prioritized and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"We have upgraded the charges in four cases by adding a second-degree charge of making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, and in all cases, we have charged fourth degree aggravated assault on an officer," she said.
The second degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, and third degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.