'Tabasco' suit dismissed

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) A judge threw out assault charges Tuesday against a former Denny's cook accused of spiking two law officers' eggs with Tabasco sauce.

Michael Towne, 20, had been charged with simple assault by Lebanon police in February after the Vermont state troopers complained that the hot pepper sauce made them sick. One trooper ate his entire meal. The other ate most of his.

District Judge Albert Cirone Jr. ruled that the troopers' consumption of their food amounted to consent ''to the contact of the Tabasco with their palate.''

Cirone also said simple assault requires physical contact and is not ''based on such a subjective standard as ... an individual's tolerance for certain foods.''

Towne's lawyer praised the decision. ''We do not and did not feel this is an appropriate case for the criminal court,'' Peter Decato said.

Lebanon Police Lt. Matthew Hogan, who prosecuted the case, said, ''We knew we were in uncharted waters. We got some clearer guidance.''

Simple assault carries up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Police said Towne spiked the troopers' food because they were police officers.

Towne had said that the hot pepper sauce may have gotten into their eggs from a previous order that had been cooked on the grill.

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