In New York City the drug game has always been in maximum effect. The druglords and their organizations rule the streets through power, money, respect and violence. But the cauldron of the inner city breeds dudes with no fear. Brazen dudes who never met another man they didn’t think they could get over on. These dudes have hearts of ice and don’t take no shorts. In the streets they don’t have no picks. They will rob anyone. Their loyalty is to themselves. They don’t work for the druglords. They work for themselves, they are free agents that roam randomly and take what they need when they need it. They are an army unto themselves. Like the gunslingers of the Old West. They are the John Dillingers, the Billy the Kids, the Robin Hoods of today. They are the stick up kids.
The bold and daring hoodlums who dare to rob the druglords. Reputation means nothing to them. They will rob the Supremes, the Preachers, the Big Meechs, the Frank Matthews and the Fat Cats. They have larceny in their souls and some of thesmore famous names of legend and lore are King Tut, the original 50 cent, Haitian Jack, Killer Ben, the A Team and the Terrible Timmons twins. These are the rough off artists of New York City. These are the name that struck fear into the druglords hearts and have lingered in infamy and street legend just as much as their big time, high profile drug dealing counterparts.
The life and the drug game takes all comers. Whatever someone’s hustle or agenda may be the drug game can accommodate it. The life is an equal opportunity employer. The game is flexible. There are no rules except one- Don’t Snitch. Everything else goes in the concrete jungle. Murder, betrayal, double cross-its all a part of the game. These so called gangsta rappers paint a glorious and romanticized image of the life but there is nothing glorious about being robbed and killed, left in cold blood, for the cops to find. Death is permanent. And the stick up kids know that the cops don’t really care about drug dealers getting killed. Just another homicide racked up in the hood. Nothing spectacular about that. And when you go back to the eighties, to their crack era it was particularly violent. With dudes franchising like McDonald’s and becoming rich overnight in the crack trade jealousy bred envy and with money being flaunted the wolves came out. And some of the most vicious wolves of this era were the Bolden Brothers- Curtis, Henry, Ernest, Robert and their cousin Issac aka Just Me.
The Bolden Brothers were to the Bronx and Queens what the Jesse James gang were to the Old West. Vicious marauders who didn’t give a fuck about nothing but getting money. With Just Me growing up in Queens, ground zero for the big time druglords, in the burgeoning crack era that has become legend in song and verse, the Bolden Brothers had much opportunity on how to rob. Publicized in books like Street Legends, magazines like Don Diva and Feds, and DVD’s like Street Stars and AS IS the druglords like Fat Cat, Supreme, Pretty Tony and their counterparts from Harlem like Alpo, Rich Porter and Azie have been well documented. But to the Bolden Brothers and their cousin Just Me these dudes, these druglords of mythical street lore and legendary reputations were nothing but marks or vicks. Cash registers ready to be broken into. Victims ready to be robbed. That was their mentality. Robberies, burglaries, stick ups- the Bolden’s did it all. They were like an army unto themselves. A virtual one family crime wave.
The Bolden Brothers grew up at 1420 Washington Avenue in Claremont Public Housing projects while their cousin grew up in Queens. Surprisingly they were the sons of a minister but their lives evolved typically of other ghetto youth. They had the usual ghetto family- parents divorced, father left, mother on public assistance. It wasn’t an easy life. It was poverty in the tenements. They had to adapt to their environment. They had to fight for their survival. As teenagers they had 125 arrests among them. They were in and out of juvenile hall and jails. Ninety days here, two years there, paroled and convicted of new crimes- one detective said, “Wherever the Boldens lived, crime appeared to flourish. Assault, burglary, robbery, grand larceny, reckless endangerment, attempted murder, drug possession, stolen property, criminal mischief and gambling were the crimes they committed. There was no honor with these dudes. They were all for self. They were vicious with that grimy stick up mentality. They would get theirs by taking it from someone else. In the jungle that was how they learned to survive. It was bust off first or bleed on your knees.
The Bolden Brothers each had their own specialties and vocations. Curtis the oldest was known as a particularly bad dude, a degenerate at worst, who robbed anyone, even old grandmotherly types. He was a piranha in the streets. Ripping and running with no conscious. Henry and the cousin Issac aka Just Me were known as the Godfathers of Crib Robberies. They would invade people’s houses and rob them. They specialized in robbing drug dealers. Ernest had a bad drug habit, he was a junkie, but this didn’t make him any less formidable. He was equally vicious and ready to rob anyone to feed his habit. Robert was the baby O. the bunch, the kid criminal who was always trying to prove his manhood by acting out violently to show that he belonged when participating in the violent criminal enterprises of his brothers. The Bolden Brothers were like an army of criminals unto themselves. A set of gunslingers straight out of the Old West. Prosecutors estimated that they may have committed six thousand crimes in all.
Their story is a saga of crime and failed rehabilitation. Crimes, arrests, court appearances, counseling services, juvenile hall and psychiatric hospitals. Their mother tried but she couldn’t control her boys. They ran wild in the streets to avoid the state mandated services and didn’t go to any of their government sponsored rehabilitation programs. Their overwhelming attitude was fuck it. They did theirs and got theirs in the streets. They were antisocial. They were rebellious. They were in the streets and in their element among the thugs and drug dealers in the criminal underworld. This was where they thrived where they wanted to be. In the middle of the action. Among the chaos, the killers, the dope boys, the hustlers, players and pimps. In the streets of inner city New York where if it wasn’t rough it wasn’t right. They plied their trade of crime and took the accolades and trappings of street fame that came their way. By force if necessary. Their vocation was crime and they were schooled well. They were a team of stick up kids that feared no one- reputation, status or presence be damned. The Bolden Brothers were coming to get it. If money or drugs were available they would rough it off. That is just what they did. But this mentality would eventually be their downfall. Live by the gun and die by the gun. That was their maxim. They were soldiers in the game. Going for theirs at all times.
Just Me and Henry were into big time scores. They liked to plan and scheme and go for the glory. Relieving the big time drug dealers of their money, drugs and jewelry was their specialty. They would recruit the other Bolden Brothers whenever necessary to join in on their schemes. Just Me was a small time hustler and drug dealer who knew a lot of the big names of the day. He rubbed shoulders with crack era giants like Fat Cat and Supreme. One of his biggest heists and claims to fame was the job the Bolden Brothers did on Fat Cat after Cat got locked up around 1986. They took one of Cat’s stash houses for 100 grand of money and drugs. That’s a big score for a couple of grimy stick up kids from the gutter. But the Bolden Brothers regularly had scores like that. The Cat was infuriated at their audacity. The streets were talking and Cat quickly found out who robbed him. He reached out to his man Prince from the Supreme Team to track down Just Me and Henry for him. The Bolden brothers stayed busy though. It’s rumored they hit a Supreme Team stash also and made off with damn near another 1OO grand. Supreme was angry and let it be known in the streets that he wanted his money back but he never got it. The Bolden Brothers played for keeps. For real they didn’t give a fuck. The chips were stacking against them though.
Henry was also involved in the legendary robbery of Harlem drug dealer and Alpo/Rich Porter pal Azie. Five people were killed in this robbery spree gone wild and Azie, who was thought to be dead, lived to testify against the intruders. Call it what you want but in the end it all came apart for the Bolden Brothers, the legendary stick up kids from New York City who operated in all boroughs with impunity. In their day they were the terrors of all five boroughs but in the end they met their maker. Here’s a rundown of their eventual outcomes.
Ernest at the age of 23 was dead. His bullet-ridden body dressed in designer clothes and sneakers was found near a Baltimore apartment complex with a young local woman also shot. Issac Bolden aka Just Me was killed on August 6, 1987 by Cat’s henchmen after Prince from the Supreme Team got two corrupt New York State Parole Division employees, Parole Officer Ina McGriff and secretary Ronnie Younger, that him and Supreme Team enforcer Ernesto “Puerto Rican Righteous” Piniella were fucking, to give him the addresses of the two Bolden’s and their families. Just Me was killed in front of his mother house in Queens and Henry was shot at his address in the Bronx but survived to rob again. Later in court it came out that P.O. Ina McGriff saw a newspaper article reporting Issac Bolden’s murder and she asked Prince whether “this was the same Bolden that I had given him the information about” and Prince “just smirked.”
More testimony surrounded the Just Me murder as an indictment filed in 1989 against Prince and the Supreme Team charged that Prince and the team assisted Cat, who was in prison, by tracking down the two men Cat wanted dead for their blatant robbery of his stash house. The Cat turned canary pled guilty to having Just Me murdered and was scheduled to testify in trial against Prince and the Supreme Team. The prosecutors never called him to the stand though. Cat told Judge Korman that Just Me and his friends robbed people in his gang Michael McClary wrote in COPSHOT. “I known him for years.” Cat said. “And so I told him, ‘Just don’t worry about what you did. Just go head and point me toward the people that was with you.’ And he did do that. He pointed me toward the people that was with him. And then he turned around and point the people toward me.” Just Me hipped his cousins to Cat’s intentions so they could avoid the showdown but the Bolden Brothers couldn’t hold the reaper at bay for long.
Henry Bolden ended up with a life sentence for the Azie robbery/murder. Azie testified against him, right or wrong, and was branded a snitch in the streets along with Cat. Both hood stars have remained legendary though as their mythical auras have outlasted their apparent misdeeds in the game. Because everyone knows that the only rule in the life is don’t snitch. Everything else is fair play. The other two Bolden Brothers ended up in prison also with various sentences for varying crimes. They took their maxim and mentality to heart by truly living and dying by the gun. For a few short years in the 1980s they were the crème de la crème of stick up kids. Perpetrating some of the most vicious, brutal, legendary and celebrated robberies of all time. Fate and destiny handed them what they deserved for their brutality but in the minds of gunmen, head hitters and stick up kids everywhere they are the ideal to look up to. Their exploits live on in infamy as their actions are still remembered and mentioned to this day.