"I want to apologize to you and to Putnam County and its citizens," Frisbie told Putnam County Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges before being sentenced. "I lost my wife and several friends because of this. But I have learned to respect the law, and I want to regain my integrity and trustworthiness. I'd like to think of today as a day of closure. I would ask for a fair sentence that would be given to anyone on a first offense."
Bridges sentenced Frisbie to the maximum for a Class A misdemeanor, 1 year, with all but three 48-hour periods suspended. The three weekends will be served in the Putnam County Jail. Frisbie will also spend a year on probation.
Bridges took several things into account in sentencing Frisbie, including the fact that Frisbie, on his own, sought counseling for his alcohol abuse issues and has completed over 240 hours of alcohol treatment sessions.
"That's a more intense program than I've seen anyone in the last year-and-a-half do," Bridges said.
Bridges also pointed out that, when requesting a sentence, it was Frisbie who suggested he do three weekends in jail.
"Whenever I ask anyone what they think they should get as a sentence, they always say 'Just give me probation,'" Bridges said.
In November 2008, Frisbie was convicted in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis of federal program theft. During his time as Putnam County sheriff, Frisbie embezzled over $11,000 from the department, and was sentenced to two-and-a-half months in a federal penitentiary. He served that sentence in Atlanta, Ga., and then spent four months of home detention before beginning a two-year term of federal probation.
The charge Frisbie was sentenced for Tuesday stemmed from a Dec. 4 incident in which Frisbie, 39, was arrested by an Indiana State Trooper who said he witnessed Frisbie driving erratically on U.S. 231 in Greencastle.
On Jan. 22, Frisbie was convicted of violating his federal probation and was sentenced in U.S. District Court to six months with Volunteers of America, a residential, non-profit human services organization in Indianapolis.
Frisbie's sentence at VOA will end in mid-August, and he will begin serving his Putnam County sentence at that time.
Frisbie was also charged with Class C misdemeanor operating while intoxicated, Class B misdemeanor public intoxication and infractions open alcohol container and driving left of center. The charges were merged for sentencing.
Frisbie's attorney, Darrell Felling, said he was perplexed as to why the prosecutor's office had not extended a plea agreement to Frisbie, who had never been convicted of any alcohol-related offense.
"There was absolutely no agreement put on the table here, and in all my years (as an attorney) I have never seen that happen before," Felling said.
Putnam County Deputy Prosecutor Jim Ensley attempted to introduce testimony from the state trooper who stopped Frisbie on Dec. 4. Felling objected, noting that all the trooper could really do was reiterate what was already in the court record.
"I do not believe this is relevant beyond what has already been filed," Felling said.
Bridges agreed, and sustained the objection.
Ensley asked Frisbie if he thought the fact that Frisbie was a former officer of the law should be an "extenuating circumstance" in Frisbie's sentencing.
Frisbie said he did not.
"The fact that you are a former sheriff doesn't mean you should be held to a higher standard?" Ensley asked. "Why in your mind does that not make a difference?"
Frisbie noted that at the time of his Putnam County arrest, he had not been sheriff for over a year, and said he felt like he should be treated "just like anyone else."
Ensley also said Frisbie's being "on probation, federal, state or otherwise, adds another layer to it."
"You are held to a higher standard, right or wrong," Ensley said. "That puts this situation in a different light."
Ensley said the state's recommendation was that Frisbie serve 180 days in jail and 180 days on probation.
Felling called Ensley's opinion that Frisbie should be treated differently because he was a former sheriff -- and Ensley's recommended sentence -- "preposterous."
"It's ridiculous," he said. "I've never seen any of that apply, at least not in my legal experience."
Felling asked Frisbie what led to his drinking problems, citing Frisbie's marital issues and depression. He asked Frisbie if he would consider the time just prior to his Dec. 4 arrest as "the lowest point in your life."
"I don't want to be seen as using that as an excuse, but yes," Frisbie said.
Frisbie now lives with his family in Plainfield. He works as a crew leader for an Indianapolis company that strips decals off buildings and trailers. He said he has been sober since Dec. 9, and that he has tremendous support from his family.
Felling asked Frisbie what advice he would give to younger people about the dangers of drinking and driving.
"Obviously, don't do it," Frisbie said. "Especially when you're dealing with depression or other issues, it can grab a hold of you before you know it."