A Weekend At Virgilio's
January 10, 2008 7:28 AM   Subscribe

posted by Dave Faris at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by matteo at 7:33 AM on January 10, 2008

When Virgilio Cintron, 66, died at his apartment at 436 West 52nd Street recently, his roommate and a friend saw an opportunity to cash his $355 check...

With friends like these, etc.

Also, I like the strategy here: You need to be present to have your checked cashed. Well, there's his body, right there! Cash it!
posted by DU at 7:34 AM on January 10, 2008

Wow! I want to live in a city where stuff like this happens. To bad they've already made the movie.
posted by uandt at 7:37 AM on January 10, 2008

O'Hare and Daloia, both 65, were arrested on charges that took a while to determine, there not having been a crime exactly like this in anybody's memory

I wonder what the charge was. Attempt to commit fraud, maybe? Is it illegal to wheel a dead guy down the street?
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 7:37 AM on January 10, 2008

I was going to post this too. I sometimes work on 52 and 11th, just thankful I wasn't around for that. The surreal image of the gathering crowd around the wheelchair is enough to give me some Ensor-like nightmares.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:39 AM on January 10, 2008

Is it illegal to wheel a dead guy down the street?

ISTR it being illegal to fail to report a death. And then there's the fraud attempt.
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on January 10, 2008

"Dead man at center of check-cashing sceme would've laughed, say friends"

Arrrgghhhhh I can't read any more past this, because the lack of an H in "scheme" is going to kill me.

Can't laugh at funny, having an embolism over misspellings in NY Daily News...

I give Metafilter permission to rummage through my medications after death, though.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:40 AM on January 10, 2008

"Improper handling of a corpse" is illegal in a lot of places, so that would be my first guess, but since I'm not in the legal profession, and it occurred to me right off the bat, then it must not be that, because it wouldn't have taken a while to determine that charge.
posted by Bugbread at 7:42 AM on January 10, 2008

I once worked in a government agency call centre where people could phone in and ask for information about starting a small business. When I asked one of the call agents about the weirdest call he'd ever taken, he said that a woman with a heavy Jamaican accent had once phoned in to ask about the legal repercussions of raising the dead (e.g. if you raise someone from the dead, and they subsequently commit a crime, are you legally responsible?). Now I'm wondering if maybe she just wanted to cash some cheques.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:44 AM on January 10, 2008

I've seen old dopefiends get desperate for an SSI check but that's plain wacky.

At the drop in center where I used to work we had an old head junky like that who would decide from time to time that we had an SSI check for him. We had this poor Jesuit volunteer straight out of college from rural Wisconsin who wound up being the target of the guy's advances when he showed up making demands. He tortured this poor kid, would ride him for hours, "Yo, man, where's my check at? Yo, you got that check? Where's my money, man? Yo, man, I need that money." On and on, for hours and hours before he finally got ejected from the place. First thing the next day he'd be back at the front door waiting for us to open so he could pester the Jesuit kid for money that didn't exist. He disappeared for a while and we would joke about how big a pain in the ass he used to be. Then I changed jobs and guess what? The fucking guy winds up on my caseload, and now I have to hear him bitch about his mystery money all the time. It was totally brutal.
posted by The Straightener at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2008

A man who drags himself across the wall to get upstairs is pretty sick. They were on a path of destruction, the babies of Hell’s Kitchen. That’s what is left of Hell’s Kitchen, dying out.

Their super is Charles Simic?
posted by eddydamascene at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2008

With friends like these, etc.

Read the second article. One of them was a damn good friend, actually:

The sister and Gonzalez agreed Cintron and O'Hare had been uncommonly close in a neighborhood where Puerto Rican and Irish gangs once fought.

"They were like brothers from different families," Gonzalez said. "They took care of each other."

O'Hare cared for Cintron as his friend's health deteriorated.

"Bathed him, fed him," Gonzalez said.

That another friend says Cintron would have laughed at the episode himself makes it a story that doesn't quite lend itself so easily to outrage as it first appears.
posted by mediareport at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2008

There's some good stuff in that Daily News piece. First, it contains the information that the office chair (NOT a wheelchair) had no arms. Second, the decedent was not fully clothed - apparently his caretakers found it overly taxing to actually pull his pants up all the way. Third it contains the following phrases:

Virgilio Cintron was the happiest corpse in the city


The men stopped outside the Pay-O-Matic check-cashing shop, which is not corpse-accessible.


(On being informed by paramedics that his friend was, in fact, dead:)

"Oh, really?" O'Hare said, shocked, simply shocked.


Yesterday, another of Cintron's friends stood outside the apartment building where the dead guy had been raised.
posted by mwhybark at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2008

When I'm dead, I hope my friends will take me around in a wheelbarrow.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:05 AM on January 10, 2008

"Improper handling of a corpse" is illegal in a lot of places,

I prefer "inappropriate handling of a corpse" which some people call "necrophilia". I mean, if you are willing to break the law, are going to go through all the trouble of wheeling the corpse around anyway...
posted by quin at 8:07 AM on January 10, 2008

"Even being dead he would have wanted him to have it," Gonzalez said. "It would have been something you're entitled to: 'This is my last gift to you.'"
Gonzalez smiled.
"Fox would have said, 'Good move.'"

Only if he was as boneheaded as these two were. Generally, a 'good move' is one that you get away with, and actually make some money, not one where you get arrested and prosecuted for dragging a stiff around town.

What were they thinking of? They had the guy's ID. Why didn't they just cash it in his name or sign over the cheque to themselves?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:14 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I actually heard it reported on the radio (Clear Channel local station) that the only charge they could officially pin on these guys was check fraud.
posted by misha at 8:15 AM on January 10, 2008

What were they thinking of? They had the guy's ID. Why didn't they just cash it in his name or sign over the cheque to themselves?

I'm sure they were too busy thinking about neutrinos, quarks, and geosynchronous orbit calculations to be concerned about such trivialities.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:19 AM on January 10, 2008 [5 favorites]

There's no fraud. They had the guy's dead body right there. Also, he would have wanted it that way. I rest my case.
posted by DU at 8:20 AM on January 10, 2008

Sigh. What a missed opportunity. They could have made a fortune producing Internet porn.
posted by sdodd at 8:23 AM on January 10, 2008

Well duh, if they'd played some calypso music he'd have walked there on his own.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2008

Woulda given a whole new meaning to the term "viral video."
posted by sdodd at 8:29 AM on January 10, 2008

Bring out your dead!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:41 AM on January 10, 2008

Why didn't they just cash it in his name or sign over the cheque to themselves?

Because NYC is both the easiest and most difficult city to cash a check in the world. Two party checks don't fly. I once had my bank refuse a deposit because i didn't have any ID. As if I was going around putting money in other people's accounts. On the other hand you can still do some "emergency banking" at the local Bodega if they know you well enough.

Actually the most difficult city to cash a check in is Tokyo if you're a large black man who doesn't speak Japanese. A corpse would have been handy on that day.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2008

Actually the most difficult city to cash a check in is Tokyo

You are not kidding. I'll never bring a traveler's check again. The guy at the bank window at Narita airport noticed that my signature scribble on the form didn't exactly match the scribble on the check (duh, I scribble my signature, of course they don't match exactly). So he made me go back and fill it out over and over again, something like 4 times, watching carefully all the while as I forged my own signature.

The implications for traveler's check security were not reassuring. I guess it makes sense, as checks aren't really used in Japan, but still, it was bizarre. I find it's a lot easier to get oodles of yen from the bank at home before I leave.
posted by vorfeed at 9:43 AM on January 10, 2008

Hell’s Kitchen duo wheel friend’s corpse around midtown Manhattan to cash his Social Security check.

I bet Gordon Ramsey gave them a good shouting at for that.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know, this really is sort of the end of Hell's Kitchen. I work in the neighborhood, have a lot of acquaintances who grew up in that there...it used to be a hard, hard, crazy place until it was bought by Starbucks and destroyed by yuppies. In a way, this is the last gasp of the place before it sinks into total gentrification. I love this story...I probably know 10 or 15 guys who'd think nothing of having their body wheeled around if it meant their friends might make a hundred or two.
posted by nevercalm at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

I moved out of Hell's Kitchen about 2 years ago, nevercalm, and Hell's Kitchen was already becoming "Clinton" by then. A decade ago, the only change to this story is that they would have reported about the hours the corpse spent on the stoop with his friends while they smoked a blunt or two.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:14 AM on January 10, 2008

I've thought about doing this too, but when I was a boy they took us to a local prison and had corpses yell at us for, like, three hours.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:17 AM on January 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

So from now on Daredevil is goign to be patrolling a yuppie neighbourhood? What happened to the Kingpin and all those guys?

(also: Daredevil totally needs to investigate a weekend-at-bernies type crime)
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on January 10, 2008


I wanted to mix up an ad for CSI & Weekend at Bernie's for a laugh, but now they'll probably do it themselves first, in a story ripped from the headlines!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2008

Billyfleetwood, don't feel bad, it would have been tough to cash a check in Tokyo even if you were fluent. I sold a CD to someone in America once, and he sent me a 2,500 yen ($25) check, even though I specifically told him to send a postal giro instead. I took it to my bank, and they informed me that there was a 2,000 yen ($20) handling charge to deposit or cash the check. I just left and got the guy to send me the postal giro in the end.
posted by Bugbread at 10:48 AM on January 10, 2008

This would never have happened if the Nazis had taken New York.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:50 AM on January 10, 2008

The Card Cheat: if you raise someone from the dead, and they subsequently commit a crime, are you legally responsible?

The answer being...?
posted by brundlefly at 11:14 AM on January 10, 2008

omg I know those guys, all of them, Jimmy, Fox and David! They're some of the locals one sees or did, often walking in the neighborhood. This is such an hilarious story! Can't wait to go around the corner and gab with neighbors about it. There's a methadone clinic on Ninth, right nearby and the social workers there are probably having a good chuckle about this as well as rolling their eyes. There are so many Hell's Kitchen neighborhood elements in this story.

One is that a huge heroin bust (a local cop told me "the largest heroin bust in NYC history" but who knows? I think cops have these bragging rights over busts, like fishermen and their fish) happened a few blocks from these guys and there is still plenty of organized crime, selling heroin, in the neighborhood. As a community activist in the area I did what I could all though the 90's to lessen the heroin biz in Hell's Kitchen. There's one big heroin depot left and I can only, er, wonder, why it hasn't been closed.

Touching to me is that these old, small time, crook farts lived together in abject poverty and addiction taking care of each other, to death. The dead guy, Fox, most likely would have thought it hilarious too what his roommates did, tried to pull one over on that check cashing joint, Pay-O-Matic, where a lot of locals go to cash their welfare or Social Security checks, pay their bills or wire money.

There are a number of old timers, genuinely good souls, in the 'hood who go around helping their elderly neighbors. A shout out to George, who is a local saint in that way.

Another element is that the guy who died, was getting $355 a month for social security. Hard to survive on that anywhere, but especially in NYC. Bet his apartment was rent controlled and he was paying less than a hundred a month, or near that, and that the landlords are whooping it up now they can renovate and charge $2500 a month (Over on Tenth Ave a 2 bedroom goes for $6 thou a month now). Wonder if his apartment was packed with bedbugs, which have been rampant in Hell's Kitchen the last 5 years. *shudder

And that armless chair Jimmy and David wheeled Fox over to Pay-O-Matic in. There's a local homeless guy, who goes by the name of Country, who finds good garbage and sells it for a couple of bucks. I can imagine they finagled Country to get the chair. And an armless chair, so funny, with the corpse flopping all over in it. What a hoot.

That block, where Pay-O-Matic is, always looks skeevy. Funny how some blocks in NYC are that way and some are happier, healthier and look it. It seems in keeping with the feel for that block that this happened.

Am busting up thinking what the hell Detective Rapp (What a name for a cop. What do they call him at work, Rapp sheet?) thought when he looked out the window, chomping on his lunchtime empanada, and saw a corpse being wheeled by the restaurant window.

The charges are attempted forgery, attempted possession of a forged instrument and petty larceny.

Can't imagine what they'll do to two old, poor, now homeless, petty crook junkies, who are probably suffering agonizing withdrawal this very minute. At least Fox gets to rest in peace, in more ways than one.
posted by nickyskye at 11:25 AM on January 10, 2008 [33 favorites]

Wow, nickyskye, great comment!
posted by schroedinger at 11:48 AM on January 10, 2008

when i croak, i think my friends are absolutely allowed to try and pull off something like that.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:10 PM on January 10, 2008

“So from now on Daredevil is goign to be patrolling a yuppie neighbourhood?”

Yeah, I thought the Ghost Rider stayed in Cypress Hills in Brooklyn.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:47 PM on January 10, 2008

A corpse would have been handy on that day.

This is why I read Meat-filter
posted by mmrtnt at 3:02 PM on January 10, 2008

At least the men had the good sense not to try it while wheeling around Jeremy Bentham (d. 1832).
posted by LeLiLo at 9:03 PM on January 10, 2008

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