ST. PETERSBURG, FL — A 31-year-old St. Petersburg man could face up to five years in federal prison for coughing on one St. Petersburg Police officer and spitting on another after announcing that he was infected with the coronavirus.

United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced she is filing of a criminal complaint charging James Jamal Curry with perpetrating a biological weapons hoax.

According to the complaint, on March 27, St. Pete Police officers responded to a domestic violence call involving Curry. During Curry’s arrest, police said Curry turned to an officer, declared that he was infected with the coronavirus and coughed on the officer’s arm. The next day, Curry bonded out of the Pinellas County Jail.

On the evening of March 28, police were called to the same home where they encountered Curry and arrested him a second time. During his arrest, Curry spit on an arresting officer multiple times—hitting the officer’s face, nose and inside her mouth with blood-filled saliva. Curry again claimed to have the coronavirus, laughed and announced that he was spreading the virus around, according to the complaint.

Police obtained a search warrant to test Curry for the coronavirus, and he tested negative.

Those close to Curry and jail personnel reported that Curry showed no symptoms of the coronavirus.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Florida Department of Health, the State Attorney’s Office and the Pinellas County Jail. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray.

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