Howie Winter, the 83-year-old reputed one-time boss of the Winter Hill gang later taken over by Whitey Bulger, and 70-year-old James Melvin have been arrested on extortion charges in Middlesex County, MA as reported by Greg Wayland for NECN:
Melvin and Winter allegedly threatened the victims, demanding that they each pay them $35,000 for, as prosecutors tell it, loaning $100,000 to a third unnamed party -- telling the victims they'd loaned money without consent or permission. * * * Winter's and Melvin's lawyers claim the so-called victims were the real extortionist and their clients were merely trying to force them to return the $4,000 dollars weekly interest payments they were loansharking from an innocent Boston lawyer who had reached out to Winters for help.
Apparently some of the alleged threats by the defendants were secretly recorded as reported by Denise Lavoie for The Associated Press:
"You're gonna have some problems if you don't come up with money," Winter allegedly said during one of the meetings. Winter also expressed disbelief when one of the men told him he didn't know who he was during a meeting in March at the Sons of Italy in Medford. "There's no one in the (expletive) country that don't know who I am," he allegedly responded.
Federal prosecutors previously asked Winter while he was serving a 10-year sentence to cooperate against Bulger who was then on the lam but Winter refused as reported by Milton J. Valencia and Travis Andersen for The Boston Globe: "'If it was my worst enemy, I wouldn't cooperate against them,' Winter said. 'Myself, I think I'd rather take a cyanide pill than go to trap someone else to save my own ass.'"