News & Politics

‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ Check Scam Foiled


It’s not exactly a victimless crime considering that David J. Dalaia and James O’Hare traipsed around the streets of Hell’s Kitchen with a corpse and were trying to defraud taxpayers and the U.S. government by cashing a Social Security check on behalf of a dead man.

But if the two senior citizens are convicted of check fraud, one might hope that the sentencing judge will take into account the absurdity of their crime and the laughter it brought to people around the world.

When O’Hare, woke up and and realized his roommate, Virgilio Cintron, was dead, he and Dalaia, both 65, sprung into action. They dressed Cintron as best they could—pulling his pants halfway up, and covering his crotch with a jacket—and wheeled the corpse on an office chair to Pay-O-Matic, a Ninth Avenue check cashing store. The plan worked well until that point when the store clerk started asking questions and off-duty NYPD detective dining next door noticed a crowd forming around the dead body on the sidewalk.

From the AP:

“The witnesses saw the two pushing the chair with Cintron flopping from side to side and the two individuals propping him up and keeping him from flopping from side to side,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

The men left Cintron’s body outside the store, went inside and tried to cash his $355 check, Browne said. The store’s clerk, who knew Cintron, asked the men where he was, and O’Hare told the clerk they would go and get him, Browne said.

A police detective who was having lunch at a restaurant next to the check-cashing store noticed a crowd forming around Cintron’s body, and “it’s immediately apparent to him that Cintron is dead,” Browne said.

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