A former lab technician at the Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant has been given a 12-year prison sentence for his role in a local ecstasy ring.
Prosecutor Jay Wood said Joe Head is one of the few people with the skill to produce the illegal drug ecstasy.
Judge Curtis Collier, who set the sentence, said when the methamphetamine outbreak started only a few trained chemists know how to make it, but he said the manufacturing process is now widespread. He said the sentence needed to be stiff enough that it would deter others from trying to learn the process.
Prosecutor Wood said Head was part of a lengthy, well-planned and unique drug conspiracy and was recruited by one man who headed distribution (Jonathan St. Onge) and another who was in charge of finance (Glenn Kamper). Several of those in the ring have already been sentenced.
While the sentencing hearing was underway a group in town for a McCallie School program on building character visited the courtroom. As they started to leave, Head asked to address them. He told them to avoid associating with the wrong crowd, saying they might end up in his situation.
At the end of the hearing, he told the judge he had gotten a college degree and always held down responsible jobs, including one at Chattem. Then he said he got in with the drug ring.
Attorney Wood said, "The proof indisputably shows that the defendant, and only the defendant, had the proper training and experience to manufacture MDMA (Ecstasy)."
Head was found guilty by a jury in a trial. Judge Collier agreed with the prosecutioni that he lied to the jury during the trial and was guilty of perjury. But he said he did not believe that two guns found at his house were in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.