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2 plead not guilty in Mass. extortion attempt case

June 8, 2012
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BOSTON—The 83-year-old former head of a Boston area gang and a codefendant have pleaded not guilty to attempted extortion and conspiracy charges and held on $25,000 bail.

Howie Winter and 70-year-old James Melvin were arraigned Friday in Somerville District Court.

Winter is a predecessor of James "Whitey" Bulger as head of the Winter Hill Gang in the 1960s and `70s.

Their lawyers say they expect to make bail. If released, they will be confined to their homes with GPS monitoring.

Prosecutors sought $100,000 bail each.

They are accused of attempting to extort $35,000 each from each from two men who had arranged a $100,000 loan for a third man.

Their attorneys said their clients were actually trying to help a lawyer who was being extorted by the alleged victims in the case.

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