'Weekend at Bernie's' charges dropped

April 22, 2008 8:08:17 AM PDT
A Manhattan judge has dismissed charges against two men accused of wheeling their dead buddy's corpse down a busy street and trying to cash his Social Security check. One reason: It can't be proved beyond a reasonable doubt when the man died, the prosecutor admitted. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Evelyn LaPorte agreed and dismissed the charges on Tuesday.

James O'Hare and David J. Daloia say their roommate, Virgilio Cintron, 66, was alive when they left home bound for a check-cashing store on Jan. 8, and that they had standing permission to cash each other's checks when pooling household expenses.

They had been charged with forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument, attempted petit larceny and improper disposal of a body in connection with the incident, which had likened comparisons to the movie "Weekend at Bernie's."

"I was amazed. I thought Britney Spears had taken her pants down again," Daloia said outside court about all the attention the case had attracted.

Assistant District Attorney Courtney Groves told the judge that an autopsy concluded only that Cintron had been dead for less than 24 hours, and had died of natural causes related to Parkinson's disease.

O'Hare and Daloia were arrested after wheeling Cintron down busy Ninth Avenue in an office chair and trying to cash his $355 Social Security check.

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, police reported. By then, the body had attracted passers-by, including a police detective.

O'Hare and Daloia said they were distraught over the loss of Cintron, their longtime friend.