- "You know what the trouble is, Brucey? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket. "
- ―Frank Sobotka
Francis "Frank" Sobotka, played by actor Chris Bauer, was a respected longshoremen's local union leader who became involved with an organized crime smuggling operation in order to finance a political campaign to sustain the docks.
Frank was a Polish-American longshoremen's union leader who worked with "The Greek" to smuggle goods through the Baltimore docks. Sobotka became involved in smuggling to fund political campaign contributions to try to sway politicians into funding initiatives that would save the Baltimore port. Sobotka's two main objectives were to have the docks dredged to increase the depth for incoming ships and to re-open the grain pier.
Sobotka had a family consisting of his wife, who was never seen, and his son Chester "Ziggy" Sobotka. His brother Louis Sobotka and his nephew Nick Sobotka both lived near by. Both Ziggy and Nick worked in Frank's union. Nick often acted as go-between for Frank and the Greek passing messages back and forth and giving Frank lists of containers to move to The Greek. Frank relied on his old friend and fellow union man Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa to move these containers for him and made sure he was always assigned to ships with contraband on board. Ziggy was involved in crime in Baltimore but Frank was largely unaware of his activity and did not include him in his association with The Greek.
The International Brotherhood of Stevedores union's secretary treasurer, Frank Sobotka is the pater familias for an extended family. He's the guy everyone turns to — when they need work, when they get hurt on the job, when they are desperate for money. But work on the docks is disappearing, the port is being taken over by development, and union membership is dwindling fast. Sobotka's dream is to return the port to some of its past glory for workers. To do this he has decided to take an all-or-nothing shot, lobbying lawmakers to deepen the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, which would make Baltimore more competitive as a port.
But taking care of everyone in the sinking union and feeding lobbyists secret $50,000 chunks of cash is expensive business, and although his intentions are good, his means are coming crashing in on him. To finance his efforts, he is being paid to let The Greek's shipping containers slip into the port undetected by authorities. However, his feud with police Major Stan Valchek (caused by Sobotka's one-upping of the Major with his church window) combined with the discovery of 13 dead girls in a shipping can has brought on a major investigation of the port.
On top of this, Sobotka discovers that his son Ziggy and his nephew Nick have been doing some freelance work stealing shipments of cameras, and his own family ties are frayed at best. With detectives asking questions about the dead girls, some strange goings-on with his cell-phone and his own suspicions about his friend Officer Russell's involvement in the case, Sobotka demands to meet The Greek and tells him he wants out.
The Greek, who needs Frank's system, objects. Nick then asks for more money for them to take on the extra risk. The Greek and Sobotka agree to this arrangement - Frank needs the money — but Sobotka is ever more uneasy — he sees this relationship spiraling out of control. Near the end of the second season, Frank decides to turn informant in order to help both Ziggy and Nick receive lighter sentences for their own crimes. However, the Greek manages to lure Sobotka into a meeting with a deal that would supposedly guarantee Ziggy's freedom. Originally, the Greek's intention merely focused on securing Frank's loyalty to his organization. However, when his inside man in the FBI, Agent Koutris, tips him off to Sobotka's informant status, his plans changed and Frank was murdered. After his death, he was re-elected as union president and his local crumbled.
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Ebb Tide"||"Collateral Damage"||"Hot Shots"||"Hard Cases"||"Undertow"|
|"All Prologue"||"Backwash"||"Duck and Cover"||"Stray Rounds"||"Storm Warnings"|
|"Bad Dreams"||"Port in a Storm"|