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$25,000 Bail For Former Winter Hill Gang Leader Charged In Extortion Plot

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Eighty-three-year-old Howie Winter, a predecessor of Whitey Bulger as head of the Winter Hill Gang in the 1960s and '70s, was ordered held on $25,000 bail Friday.

Winter, of Milbury, and 70-year-old James Melvin of Braintree were arrested Thursday night on attempted extortion and conspiracy charges.

They pleaded not guilty Friday at their arraignment in Somerville District Court.

Winter and Melvin are accused of attempting to extort $35,000 each from two people who arranged a $100,000 loan for a third man last fall.

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

Prosecutors said the alleged victims began getting threatening phone calls after the borrower stopped making payments.

In addition to the $25,000 bail for each man, the judge ordered Winter and Melvin to wear GPS monitoring devices, surrender their passports and have no contact with anyone involved in case.

Bulger was captured last year after 16 years on the run. He's charged with participating in 19 murders.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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