Even for the once-notorious Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, it may have been a first: Two men were arrested on Tuesday after pushing a corpse, seated in an office chair, along the sidewalk to a check-cashing store to cash the dead man's Social Security check, the police said.
When Virgilio Cintron, 66, died at his apartment recently, his roommate and a friend saw an opportunity to cash his $355 check, the police said.
They did not go about it the easy way, the police said, choosing a ruse that resembled the plot of "Weekend at Bernie's," a film about two young men who prop up their dead employer to pretend that he is alive.
"Hell's Kitchen has a rich history," said Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, "but this is one for the books."
There was no sign of foul play in Cintron's death, he added.
The roommate, James P. O'Hare, and his friend, David J. Dalaia, both 65 and unemployed, placed Cintron's body in the chair and wheeled it around the corner Tuesday afternoon, the police said.
The men parked the chair with the corpse in front of Pay-O-Matic, a check-cashing business that Cintron had patronized.
They went inside to present the check, but a clerk said Cintron would have to cash it himself, and asked where he was, the police said.
"He is outside," O'Hare said, indicating the body in the chair, according to Browne.
The two men started to bring the chair inside, but it was too late.
Their sidewalk procession had already attracted the stares of passers-by who were startled by the sight of the body flopping from side to side as the two men tried to prop it up, the police said.
The late Cintron was dressed in a faded black T-shirt and blue-and-white sneakers.
His pants were pulled up part of the way, and his midsection was covered by a jacket, the police said.
While the two men were inside the check-cashing office, a small crowd had gathered around the chair.
A police detective eating at a nearby restaurant saw the crowd and notified police.
Police officers and an ambulance arrived as the two men were trying to maneuver the corpse and chair into the check-cashing office.
The two men were taken into custody and questioned.
The police said they were considering charging them with check-cashing fraud.
The medical examiner's office said its preliminary assessment was that Cintron had died of natural causes within the previous 24 hours.