WOBURN (CBS) – The former head of the Winter Hill Gang says the allegations of extortion and conspiracy charges against him are false.

Eighty-three-year-old Howie Winter, a predecessor of Whitey Bulger as head of the Winter Hill Gang in the 1960s and ’70s, was arraigned Tuesday in Woburn.

“They are all false, believe me,” Winter said of the charges against him, outside the courthouse.

Winter, of Milbury, and 70-year-old James Melvin of Braintree were arrested in June and indicted in September on attempted extortion and conspiracy charges. Both pleaded not guilty.

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 have said 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 payment.

Both Winter and Melvin will remain out on the $25,000 bail they posted after their arrests in June.


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