A federal judge Wednesday gave a longtime Elvis impersonator four years on probation for selling prescription pain pills in March inside his Yukon diner to an undercover police officer.
The judge spared Darin Thrasher, 43, from any prison time because of evidence he has overcome his own pain pill addiction and helped others to get treatment. The judge said she was impressed he reached out to help others.
He also was not fined.
"I thank God. I thank God for this chance," Thrasher told The Oklahoman after his sentencing.
Thrasher came to court with the distinctive sideburns and haircut often associated with Elvis Presley, the late idolized singer who had his own problems with prescription drugs.
Thrasher was arrested March 23. He sought treatment for his addiction after his release from jail.
He told The Oklahoman he wants to help other addicts quit like he did with a miracle drug that he said, for him, stopped the cravings. He told The Oklahoman anyone needing help could come to his restaurant, now called Fat Elvis Diner in Yukon.
During the sentencing, he and his attorney told the judge the diner likely would have to close if he went to prison. They asked for leniency to save the diner and the jobs of seven employees. Thrasher told the judge in written statements he works 60 to 70 hours a week at the diner "and it's barely staying above water."
U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron told him, "I am giving you what you've asked for, and that is a chance to prove that this is over and you can go forward."
She said her decision shows the community what can happen to someone who rehabilitates himself and tries to do the right thing.
Thrasher pleaded guilty in May to illegal distribution of the painkiller oxycodone.
Authorities reported the undercover officer made three drug buys in March from Thrasher, twice inside the diner and once at a gas station. The buys totaled about $1,400, authorities said.
His restaurant was then known as Sid's Diner. His defense attorney said Thrasher distributed 33 oxycodone tablets and 10 Lortabs to the undercover officer who pretended to be his niece's girlfriend.
Thrasher told the judge he was not a dealer but rather he was in a circle of addicts who passed pills back and forth to keep each other going. He said he had prayed for a way to get off the pills.
"You just think you can't live without them," he said.
His daughter, Bailey Thrasher, 16, was fatally stabbed by a much older former boyfriend three years ago. A Yukon police officer and Canadian County deputy sheriff fatally shot the ex-boyfriend during the stabbing.
His defense attorney, Tony Lacy, told the judge in a sentencing memo that Thrasher already was taking OxyContin for pain before his daughter's death but then used the painkillers to keep numb.
Thrasher told the judge Wednesday he has tried not to use his daughter's murder as an excuse. But, he said, "It seems like it was yesterday."
He told the judge in written statements that since his arrest, five close friends also have quit taking pills.
Thrasher did his first show as Elvis in June 1998, after overcoming alcoholism, according to his attorney's memo to the judge. Thrasher told the judge in his written statements his short-term goals include expanding his Elvis show.
"I have the crippling addiction to pain pills behind me," he wrote. "I'm back in church and clear minded again."