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N.H. judge: Tabasco sauce not a weapon

LEBANON, N.H., June 7 -- A New Hampshire judge has dismissed charges against a Denny's restaurant cook after ruling Tabasco sauce is not a dangerous weapon. Michael A. Towne, 20, of Lebanon found himself in hot water after two Vermont state troopers alleged he drowned their egg sandwiches in so much Tabasco sauce, it constituted simple assault.

Lebanon Police charged Towne in February after state troopers Timothy Clouatre and Michael Manning complained of 'burning, irritation and discomfort' after feasting on 'Moon Over My Hammy' sandwiches. They claimed the sandwiches were deliberately drowned in hot sauce by the cook. In his defense, Towne said he was being creative in a culinary sense. District Court Judge Albert J. Cirone ruled Tuesday that Tabasco sauce is a 'legal and accepted condiment used in food preparation and used by consumers to enhance the flavor of food.' Cirone said he doubted the state Legislature had Tabasco sauce in mind when it wrote its assault statutes. He also noted that because one trooper ate his whole meal and the other most of his, that conduct 'amounted to a consent to the contact of the Tabasco with their palate. ' Melissa Stock, editor of the New Mexico-based Chile Pepper magazine said Towne has been approached to serve as an advertising spokesman for some brands of hot sauce.

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