Terry Michael Honeycutt noticed a strange thing happen at his father's Brainerd Army Store in 2008, so he called police.
A product called "Polar Pure" was flying off of the shelves. And the people buying it looked "edgy."
He asked Chattanooga police if the chemical could be used to make methamphetamine.
The reason Honeycutt is on trial in federal court this week is because after that phone call, he kept selling the iodine-containing product.
In 2007, the store sold two bottles of the product commonly used to purify water.
In 2008, the store sold 2,000 bottles.
From 2008 until 2010, the store sold a total of 21,000 bottles, making a profit of nearly $270,000.
It was their second-highest selling product during that time period.
Federal prosecutor Jay Woods questioned Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force Director Tommy Farmer, who testified that shortly after he heard about Honeycutt's call to Chattanooga police, he contacted the store and told Honeycutt that Polar Pure was being used to make methamphetamine.
Another investigator was scheduled to testify that he went into the store undercover and asked Honeycutt if he could buy a case of the product. He asked if he could buy some Polar Pure, leave and buy more the same day. He did.
But Honeycutt's attorney, Chris Townley, pointed out that his client had no plan to break the law.
He kept detailed records of the sales.
He repeatedly asked police if there was a better way to register sales and track the product.
He even made recommendations as to how they could better control Polar Pure while still selling it to people with good intentions.
Townley said his client immediately came to the store during a 2010 raid and handed over sales records.
"Because Terry doesn't think he's doing anything against the law," Townley told the jury.
No one told Honeycutt the iodine is a regulated chemical though Townley said investigators knew that fact.
The investigation links sales at the store to meth-making operations in 15 federal cases with dozens of witnesses who could be called to testify.
Townley smirked at how some of those witnesses were brought into the case against his client.
"Just one of those amazing coincidences. They all made a traffic violation after buying Polar Pure," Townley said.
Honeycutt's brother, Tony Dewayne Honeycutt, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. He was sentenced to five months in prison in December. He could be called to testify against his brother as part of his plea agreement.
Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...