Virgilio Cintron was the happiest corpse in the city as his two buddies wheeled him in a red office chair to a Hell's Kitchen check-cashing shop with his last Social Security check.
"He's probably laughing at it now," another longtime friend, Jose Gonzalez, said yesterday. "The last con."
One immediate complication in the scheme was the chair had no arms, which meant James O'Hare and David Daloia had considerable difficulty keeping their buddy Cintron in the chair as they turned from W. 52nd St. and started down Ninth Ave.
Another complication came when NYPD Detective Travis Rapp happened to look up from his lunch in a Ninth Ave. restaurant.
He beheld through the front window what even an eye as experienced and worldly as his needed a moment to recognize.
"At first I thought it was a mannequin, a dummy," Rapp later said.
He began to think otherwise as the men drew nearer. The figure in the chair was pale and stiff and oddly akimbo and his feet were bumping on the pavement. The two escorts were sweating with the continuing effort to keep their passenger from spilling out.
"I said, well, this is a dead guy," Rapp remembered.
The men stopped outside the Pay-O-Matic check-cashing shop, which is not corpse-accessible. A crowd was gathering as the detective emerged from the restaurant and identified himself.
"Where are you guys going? What's going on?" Rapp recalled asking.
"Well, I'm cashing my friend's check," O'Hare said. "He needs his check."
An ambulance arrived and the paramedics reported the figure in the chair had been dead for a good 12 hours.
"Oh, my God! My friend is gone!" said the other man, Daloia.
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.
Cintron was transported to the medical examiner's office, where an autopsy indicated he had died of natural causes, perhaps complications from Parkinson's disease.
Yesterday, another of Cintron's friends stood outside the apartment building where the dead guy had been raised. Juan Gonzalez said Cintron had been something of a hustler in his younger years and had been known on the street as Fox.
"Because he was sly," Gonzalez said. "He have the gift of gab. He could con you."
Cintron's sister Elizabeth Cintron insisted her brother was no kind of hustler even if he did have a bit of a criminal record. She said his nickname derives from the old slang "foxy," meaning handsome.
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.
When Cintron died, O'Hare dressed him one more time, or at least tried to, putting on a faded T-shirt, tossing a jacket over his waist after he failed to hitch the pants and slipping on a pair of Velcro sneakers.
O'Hare and Daloia then set off for the check-cashing shop.
Gonzalez has no doubt that Cintron would have been happy for O'Hare to use him in death to make a little score.
"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.'"
Fox would have said, 'Good move.'"
-------------------- The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits Posts: 10204 | From: NYC | Registered: Mar 2006
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