Woman Convicted of Robbing San Francisco Drug Store by Faking COVID-19

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A woman who stole items from a Walgreens successful San Francisco and escaped by coughing astatine employees and claiming to person the coronavirus was convicted Wednesday of a national charge.

Carmelita Barela, 36, of San Francisco, was recovered blameworthy of robbery affecting interstate commerce for the incidental that took spot past April successful the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

A national ailment said Barela and different pistillate entered the store adjacent the Civic Center unmasked and carrying bare bags.

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When 1 pistillate began coughing, the store manager asked her to permission if she was sick but instead, she and Barela began to cough portion taking merchandise disconnected the shelves and putting the items successful the bags, authorities said.

When the store manager told them to leave, the brace claimed to person COVID-19, prosecutors said.

The manager and a information defender didn’t privation to spell adjacent the women, who filled their bags with astir $90 worthy of goods and near without paying, authorities said.

Barela faces up to 20 years successful situation and a $250,000 good erstwhile she is sentenced adjacent month.

“The dispersed of COVID-19 has forced astir each of america to marque sacrifices and to trust connected each different to support our information and bully health,” acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds said successful a statement. “Unfortunately, immoderate radical person tried to usage the situation to intimidate indispensable workers and to perpetrate crimes. This condemnation demonstrates that those who question to exploit the pandemic ... volition beryllium held accountable.”

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