No Officer, He’s Just Dead Tired

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Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Dead Man’s Check Leads to Wild Scene on Streets of Manhattan
1010 WINS News
January 9, 2008

David Dalaia and James O\"™Hare, AP PhotoNew York (AP) — Detective Travis Rapp knew something was wrong when he looked out the window of the restaurant where he was having lunch.

Two men were wheeling their friend down a Manhattan street in a red office chair, and a crowd of suspicious onlookers began to congregate around the lifeless figure.

Initially, Rapp assumed “it was a mannequin or a dummy,” he said. “I thought it was a joke, honestly.”

But upon closer examination, it dawned on him that the body — rigid, white and with glazed-over eyes — was real. As a 15-year veteran with the New York Police Department, he had seen a few dead folks in his time. “But never anything like this,” he recalled.

As it turns out, his instincts were right. The man was dead, and two of his friends had hauled his corpse to a store to cash his $355 Social Security check, police said. They were arrested before they could get the money.

The bedraggled suspects, David J. Dalaia and James O’Hare, were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday night. Police said the men, both 65, were petty criminals with long histories of heroin addiction and arrests dating back to the 1960s.

The scene could have been straight out of the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

The trouble began Tuesday when Dalaia and O’Hare tried to cash Virgilio Cintron’s check at a store in Hell’s Kitchen on their own, police said. The man at the counter told them that Cintron had to be present to cash the check, so they went back to his apartment, which one of the suspects shared with the dead man.

Cintron was apparently undressed when he died, sometime within the previous 24 hours. Police said Dalaia and O’Hare proceeded to dress him in a faded T-shirt, pants they could only get up part way, and a pair of Velcro sneakers. They threw a coat over his waist to conceal what the pants couldn’t cover, police said.

They then put him on the office chair and wheeled the corpse over to the check-cashing store.

The men left Cintron’s body outside, went inside and tried to cash his check, authorities 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.

At about the same time, Rapp spotted them and jumped up, confronting the men as they were attempting to haul the body into the store. He said even after he identified himself as a police officer, O’Hare told him, “I have to get my friend in here. I have to cash his check.”

He ordered the men to back away from the victim. They feigned surprise when paramedics declared him dead, Rapp said.

“When they said, ‘Your friend is dead,’ they said, ‘Oh my god, he’s
gone?”’

Read the rest of the story here.