Frisbie, 39, was on federal probation for a November 2008 conviction on a federal program theft charge when he was arrested in Putnam County on Dec. 4 for operating while intoxicated. Frisbie was stopped on U.S. 231 in Greencastle by Indiana State Police, and was found to have a blood alcohol content of .27 -- over three times Indiana's legal limit.
Judge Larry McKinney sentenced Frisbie to six months with Volunteers of America, a residential, non-profit human services organization based in Indiana. McKinney did not specify which VOA facility -- Indianapolis, Terre Haute or Evansville -- Frisbie would be sent to. He was able to go home from court today, and will be summoned by federal officials when he is to begin serving his sentence.
VOA provides addiction services, correctional residential programs, prison aftercare services and other programs. Residents are required to be at the facility unless they are working or attending classes or church services.
"The agency's largest program supports men and women transitioning from the criminal justice system," information at the VOA Web site said. "The program provides counseling, case management, employment and life skills designed to help these men and women become productive members of the community."
VOA residents are required to maintain employment and comply with all court orders and restrictions attached to their cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James W. Warden said he felt "what would be appropriate here would be a modification (to Frisbie's sentence) rather than a revocation."
"We would like to see Mr. Frisbie have a chance to straighten himself out," Warden said. "We think VOA has an appropriate format for Mr. Frisbie."
Frisbie's attorney, Bob Hammerle, said his client had been having personal struggles -- that being unable to find employment and having to move back in with his parents had taken a toll on Frisbie.
"He's got to start looking forward instead of looking backward," Hammerle said.
Hammerle said Frisbie had been attending intensive alcohol counseling -- attending sessions from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. five times a week -- since his arrest in August 2008.
"What we really wanted today was to not interfere with that," Hammerle said.
Hammerle described Frisbie as "a really decent guy who's fallen down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland, and has just continued to fall."
McKinney told Frisbie his probation had been put in place "to provide rules and regulations to prevent you from shooting yourself in the foot again."
"To abuse this the way you have is of great concern," McKinney said.
McKinney noted that Frisbie's driving under the influence could have had dire consequences for other people.
"You could have wrapped that truck around a tree or a van with a family in it," McKinney said. "Fortunately, you're not here for anything worse than you are."
McKinney let Frisbie know in no uncertain terms that this was his last chance.
"Now is the time for you to abide by these relatively non-opposing rules," he said. "When you were out serving the public, those were your best days. The idea is to get you back to where you can serve people -- maybe not the public ... that time has passed ... but you can still serve others, including your parents and yourself.
"The question I wrestle with is how to get you back to your better days," McKinney continued. "I think VOA is a better suggestion than you going back to prison for nine months. The object is not to upset the steps forward you may have already taken."
"Here's the critical part," he said. "If the judge had revoked him, this would be all done. We feel it is in the best interest of the government -- as well as hopefully in the best interest of Mr. Frisbie -- to keep him under supervision. It gives him a chance to comply with the law."
Warden noted that another violation would send Frisbie back to prison.
"Should that happen, I will come in quickly and ask the judge to put him in jail right then," Warden said.
A trial on the new Putnam County charges is set for April 7 in Putnam County Superior Court. Frisbie is charged with Class A misdemeanor operating with at least .15 grams of alcohol in 210 liters of breath, Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, Class C misdemeanor operating while intoxicated and open alcohol container and driving left of center infractions.
McKinney also noted that Frisbie had paid very little toward the over $11,000 in restitution he had been ordered to make. Warden and Hammerle agreed to put that issue on the back burner until Frisbie could get a job and establish a steady income.
A somber Frisbie was invited to address the court twice during today's proceedings, but declined. The only words he uttered were "Yes, sir" when McKinney asked him if he understood his charges and sentence.