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St. Petersburg man faces federal charges after spitting on a police officer and claiming to have COVID-19

The man has an extensive rap sheet.

U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez is charging James Jamal Curry with perpetrating a biological weapons hoax after the St. Petersburg man told officers who were arresting him that he was infected with the coronavirus and then coughed into the officer’s arm.

If convicted, Curry faces up to five years in federal prison.

Officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department were responding to a domestic violence call involving Curry on March 27.

He was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail and was released on bond the next day.

After his release, police were again called to the residence and arrested Curry again. During that time, Curry spit on the arresting female officer multiple times, spraying the officer’s face, nose and inside of her mouth.

Curry reportedly laughed after propelling intentional expectorant and again announced to officers that he was infected with the coronavirus and “spreading it around,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Law enforcement obtained and executed a warrant to test Curry for the virus. He tested negative.

Curry’s 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 in St. Petersburg and the Pinellas County Jail.

Assistant U.S.  Attorney Frank Murray will prosecute the case.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman shared the Department of Justice’s announcement on Facebook Wednesday.

“This isn’t a game and we’re not playing,” Kriseman wrote.

The St. Petersburg Police Department also shared the notice on its Facebook page, but with less fanfare about the charges.

Curry, 31, has an extensive arrest record in Pinellas County with charges leveled for domestic battery, battery, possession of a controlled substance, possession of cocaine, resisting arrest, exposure of sexual organs, providing a false name to law enforcement, false imprisonment, trespassing, burglary, possession of MDMA, criminal mischief and reckless driving, among others.

Most of his charges were related to domestic violence. He was also charged with violating the county and state stay-at-home order related to the COVID-19 crisis.


Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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