A 31-year-old Maryville man charged with dipping his privates in salsa being delivered to a customer pleaded guilty Tuesday.
Howard Matthew Webb, 31, Tuckaleechee Pike, pleaded guilty to offensive touching misdemeanor assault. He had been charged Feb. 22 with “adulteration of food, liquids, or pharmaceuticals,” a Class C felony. Webb was arrested after a video surfaced on Facebook of him interacting with the salsa.
“Offensive touching” is a Class B misdemeanor and carries less weight than Webb’s original charge.
Judge Robert L. Headrick suspended six months of jail time for Webb after 30 days served and credited him for 21 already served. Webb is set to serve nine more days and then be released on probation for six months. He will be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day for three months.
Webb admitted in court that attending AA meetings already had been “hit or miss” for him and Headrick said it was important for him to “get back into the fold.”
Before approaching the bench, Webb sat isolated from other inmates and talked with his attorney.
During plea proceedings, the judge suddenly halted his sentencing to ask a smirking Webb why he was laughing. “You think this is funny?” Headrick asked. Webb replied he didn’t. “There is nothing about this situation I find cute or funny,” the judge added.
Though Webb jeopardized his sentencing by making light of the situation, Headrick did not change the sentence. “You and I will not have a problem if you follow your probation,” Headrick said.
Headrick required Webb to get a job as soon as possible and expected him to have proof of employment by his next hearing, which is set for April 23.
The video of the salsa incident had been shared many times on Facebook, but April M. Pennington told The Daily Times she had sent it to the delivery service Dinner Delivered before it received attention online. A Maryville police report states a Dinner Delivered employee brought it to officers’ attention.
The video and news articles went national.
The video, which has since been taken down, depicts a man in the passenger seat of a car putting the salsa between his legs and saying “Ah, this feels good on my ... .”
A voice that sounds like a woman’s says in the background, “This is what you get when you give an 89-cents tip for an almost 30-minute drive.”
Dinner Delivered apologized for the situation in a statement online and states the company will re-examining its training and hiring policies.
A report filed by Maryville Police officers shows investigators interviewed the person who originally posted the video, and a acquaintance of Webb’s and the person who shot the video.
The Dinner Delivered driver, an independent contractor, has been fired but not charged. The investigation is ongoing, law enforcement said.