The Cooler the Bandits the better the documentary

Call and Post hosts the coolest bandits ever

Felicia Haney | 3/19/2014, noon
This is a sincere tale told through excellent cinematography of four friends who admittedly made some bad decisions and paid ...
The Cooler Bandits

… Even though what we do is wrong” – Freeway, “What We Do”

The drug game has its ups and downs, especially for street corner pushers. And in Northeast Ohio where the weather gets cold, you’d rather be the one bearing the heat forcing unsuspecting others to freeze than be the usual suspect standing on the corner freezing your buns off. Cue the inception of the Cooler Bandits. Frankie, ironically the only one of the four raised in a two-parent household, masterminds a plan to get quick money robbing area restaurants. Soon after, everyone else wanted in. In and out in 30 seconds or so with fistfuls of cash. Everyone was moved into the cooler, no one got hurt. They even made a courtesy call to police for the victims.

“When income is considered, substantially fewer differences arise between the intellectual development, academic achievement, and behavior of children in single-parent and two-parent families. Lack of income has been identified as the single most important factor in accounting for the differences in children from various family forms.” – Jacqueline Kirby, M.S. (This is according to a report featured on www3.uakron.edu).

Understanding why they did it was a no-brainer, knowing they should be punished went without saying. But, the most head-scratching scenario in the entire story, even to the victims themselves, was why they were given so much time. Some guesses are that Judge Frank Bayer, now deceased, set out to make an example of the teens, especially after Frankie made two attempts to escape during the trial and politely told Judge Bayer, “f_ _ _ yourself!” Others believe it’s just the effects of a twisted justice system that only conveniently turns a blind eye at will. Whatever the case, Judge Bayer used his gavel to hammer Frankie with a whopping 200 to 500-year sentence. Both Poochie and Charlie were handed 69 to 159 years. And Donovan, the only one who could afford a lawyer, took a plea to serve 16 to 50 years. Just babies when they went in, Lucas chronicles the changes they’ve gone through while incarcerated until their release 20 years later and the struggles they encounter trying to become reacquainted with life on the outside – holding down employment, raising children and even trying to operate a touch screen.

This is a sincere tale told through excellent cinematography of four friends who admittedly made some bad decisions and paid for it with a greater part of their lives using brotherhood, family, video cameras and the will of God to get them through. Their struggle is all too relatable to so many in our community and is not only a must-see, but a must-discuss.

Unfortunately Frankie is the last of the four Cooler Bandits still serving time. He was given an additional 10 to 12 years on top of his sentence in 2001 after attempting to orchestrate a bank robbery over the phone from prison – his fellow culprits on the outside only received 18 months. Another brutally harsh sentence for another stupid mistake. But “how long is long enough?” asks Lucas. Unlike his family who remains hopeful he’ll sit across from them at dinner one day, Frankie’s outlook is grim. “Future ... what future?” he asked. “My future got took away when I was sentenced. I don't see how you can take the life of a person who didn't take a life. But they do it.”

Lucas and Change.org have organized a petition to Governor Kasich to grant clemency for Frankie and are asking our readers to please go online and electronically sign at http://www.change.org/petitions/ohio-governor-clemency-for-frankie-porter-governor-kasich-please-commute-the-200-500-sentence-for-frankie-porter-to-the-23-years-of-time-that-he-has-served.

Additional screenings of “The Cooler Bandits” are at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 and 11:20 a.m. Friday, March 28 at Tower City Cinemas.