April 23, 2008
'Case of a Check-Cashing Corpse Is Dismissed'
Above, the headline of Christine Hauser's article in today's New York Times about the curious case of one Virgilio Cintron, whose two best friends pushed him in a wheelchair into the Pay-O-Matic check-cashing store in New York City on January 8 of this year.
Long story short: NYPD detective Travis Rapp, eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, noticed a commotion and saw Cintron's feet bouncing on the sidewalk and thought to himself, "Well, this is a dead guy."
He then arrested Cintron's two "enablers," who were charged with forgery and larceny for attempting to cash Cintron's $355 Social Security check.
Here's the story of why those charges were dismissed yesterday by Judge Evelyn Laporte of the Manhattan Criminal Court.
- Case of a Check-Cashing Corpse Is Dismissed
That Virgilio Cintron was dead that day is not in doubt. But no one can say precisely when he died, and that is why his friends have gone free.
Was Mr. Cintron breathing when his buddies, James P. O’Hare and David Daloia, pushed him in a chair to the Pay-O-Matic check-cashing store in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan on Jan. 8? That’s what they said. Never mind that in a detective’s judgment, he was unresponsive, flopped around unsteadily in the chair, and appeared to show early signs of rigor mortis.
The police said those clues indicated that Mr. Cintron, 66, had died earlier that day, and that Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Daloia had wheeled their friend’s stiffening corpse to the office in a bold, if poorly thought-out, scheme to cash his $355 Social Security check.
The medical examiner performed an autopsy on Jan. 9 and determined that he had been dead, of complications of Parkinson’s disease, for less than 24 hours, an assistant district attorney, Courtney Groves, said on Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court. But the medical examiner could not state the time of death with certainty, Ms. Groves conceded.
Since prosecutors could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Cintron had died before leaving the apartment en route to Pay-O-Matic, Judge Evelyn Laporte dismissed the forgery and larceny charges against Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Daloia.
They were free, ending a gritty and macabre Hell’s Kitchen tale of three longtime friends who relied on each other in many ways to get out of fixes and to survive the streets.
Mr. Daloia and Mr. O’Hare returned to the apartment at 436 West 52nd Street where they had last cared for Mr. Cintron. They said again that they thought their friend had been alive. “If the medical examiner couldn’t tell his time of death, and they are the professionals, then how could we?” Mr. Daloia asked, standing on the stoop of his building.
He said he picked up Mr. Cintron off the couch a few weeks before his death and carried him to the same check-cashing store, where he was able to wave at the attendant. But he hadn’t been taking his medication, and his condition was getting worse.
“What did we do? We didn’t do anything, except what we normally do,” Mr. Daloia said.
Mr. O’Hare, who had lived with Mr. Cintron for seven years and said he was his primary caregiver, said he felt particularly bad. He said the landlord of Mr. Cintron’s building was trying to have him evicted. “Maybe I feel like I should have done more,” he said. “I could have done more to help him with the medication. I loved the guy. I miss him.”
Mr. O’Hare’s lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, said, “We have said from the beginning that James and David did not know that their very good friend was dead when they went to the check-cashing facility.”
“All charges were dismissed, the record has been sealed and it is the end of a very sad story,” he said.
On Jan. 8, Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Daloia dressed Mr. Cintron in his apartment, carried him downstairs and propped him up in a computer chair on wheels. Then they pulled and dragged the chair east to the Pay-O-Matic at 763 Ninth Avenue near 52nd.
The spectacle drew a crowd. A detective at a nearby restaurant looked up from lunch and noticed Mr. Cintron’s feet bouncing off the edge of the sidewalk.
“Well, this is a dead guy,” the detective, Travis Rapp, recalled thinking to himself. He confronted them.
“Oh my God, my friend is gone?” they said, Detective Rapp recalled later that day. Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Daloia have said there was nothing unusual about what they did.
For a long time before Mr. Cintron died, the three of them depended on one another, they and their lawyers have said. They pooled money, nursed one another through sickness and shared food and the shelter of the small apartment where Mr. Cintron had grown up and where he and Mr. O’Hare lived.
The friends said Mr. Cintron had been ill for some time from Parkinson’s disease, weak, at times unresponsive and unable to care for himself. That Tuesday morning was no different, they said.
“They have grown old together,” Mr. Daloia’s lawyer, Allan P. Haber, said of the three, adding, “The friendship doesn’t end if one of them is needy.”
Mr. O’Hare and Mr. Daloia were arrested on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree forgery and attempted petty larceny. They were also accused of violating a section of public health law that requires that a body be buried or incinerated “within a reasonable time after death.”
LG Champagne Flute 700W Home Cinema System
Four speakers (each over a meter high, pictured above),
a center speaker and a subwoofer (TV not included).
$1,000 wherever LG products are sold.
I'll drink to that.
Magnetic Wrist Nail Holder — Episode 2: It comes in colors (everywhere)
Episode 1 back on October 13, 2005, featured your basic Henry Ford any-color-you-like-as-long-as-it's-black iteration.
Now comes the next wave, in red (above and below).
From the website:
- Magnetic Wrist Nail Holder
Now you won't have to work with a mouthful of nails or try to dig spikes out of your pocket while maintaining your balance on a ladder.
Incorporating six rare-earth magnets, this 13-1/2" long by 3-3/8" wide nylon wristband holds about 1 lb. of fasteners or drill and driver bits.
Its Velcro® backing adjusts to fit a wide range of wrist sizes and can even be worn over a jacket or sweatshirt.
A very handy tool.
Looks like my snarkiness is spreading — the website above states "Screws not included."
Bonus: It's even cheaper now than it was back in 2005, when it would have set you back $19.50.
But I'm just getting started.
What if I told you you could have one in Sky Blue or Yellow — for only $18?
Would that rev your engine?
OK, then, without further ado, the envelope, please.
- Magwear™ Magnetic Wristband
With this handy magnetic wristband, you'll never have to hold another nail in your mouth ever again.
Simply strap this magnetic tray onto your wrist and the powerful pull of the magnet will hold most hardware, tools and other metallic objects conveniently on your wrist.
It's simply genius and the perfect companion for any home project and especially useful on ladders, under cars, in crawlspaces, hanging pictures or sewing.
Adjustable strap with Velcro closure.
Sky Blue or Yellow.
3" x 3".
Ghost Bikes of New York
William Ferguson wrote the following in the April 20, 2008 New York Times T Magazine:
To judge from ad campaigns and civic initiatives, the solution to climate change is simple: ride a bike, save the earth.
The hundreds of ghost bikes throughout the world, however, silently testify to a darker truth. A memorial to a cyclist killed in traffic, a ghost bike springs up in the days after the crash — never, in the parlance of the cycling activists responsible for the ghost bikes, an “accident.”
It is spray-painted stark white and chained to a street sign and often bears a commemorative plaque. Unlike the crosses on highway shoulders, briefly noted in a passing blur, ghost-bike memorials are sidewalk monuments meant to spark debate, if not dread.
These eerie urban shrines stand as reminders that however free and healthy and green our bicycles make us, the green revolution might actually be a revolution, and revolution can be dangerous.
Fred Conrad photographed six of them (above and below)
for the New York Times.
Grill Steamer Cleaner
From the website:
- Grill Steamer Cleaner
Give your grill a powerful "steam clean."
This innovative grill brush sprays water stored in the handle onto your hot, dirty grill.
The water turns to steam, quickly cutting through grease and burnt-on food without using harmful chemicals.
Just fill with water, heat up your grill, then hit the red button to spray.
'Arrested in Egypt, Saved by Twitter'
That's the gist of Mike Musgrove's April 19, 2008 Washington Post article about one James Karl Buck, a journalism graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley who leveraged the power of Twitter to enable his release from an Egyptian jail last week.
Here's the story.
- Held by Egyptian Authorities? Time to 'Tweet'
James Karl Buck says he has Twitter to thank for his freedom.
Buck, a journalism grad student, was arrested in Egypt last week, and his only communication to the outside world was through his cellphone, which he used to post a message on the micro-blogging site.
"Arrested," he typed into his phone, a message that broadcast via the Web to his friends in the United States and bloggers in Egypt.
Buck was detained after photographing a labor rally near a textile mill in Mahalla, a few hours from Cairo, the capital. The grounds for his arrest were not made clear to him, he said, though the men who detained him said he may have been inciting a riot.
Twitter, a social-networking site, lets its users constantly update, or "tweet," their friends, acquaintances and potentially anybody else with a Web connection, with short, often mundane messages like "heading to the library," "feeling sad" or "working late." Entries are limited to 140 characters, so the typical update is only a sentence or two, like a super-short blog. The free service launched in July 2006.
After Buck, who was in Egypt for a school research project, sent a tweet that he had been detained, his friends contacted the U.S. Embassy and his school, the University of California at Berkeley, which sent a lawyer to get him out of jail.
A spokeswoman for the State Department said yesterday that the agency helped secure Buck's release.
Buck's translator, Mohammed Maree, was also detained, the student said. Attiya A. Shakran, a spokesman for the Egyptian consulate in San Francisco, did not comment on Buck's arrest other than to say that Maree has been released.
Buck said he used his phone's texting feature rather than make a call because he figured it would draw less attention.
"I'm not big on 'What's the new techno-gadget of the week?' " he said. In this case, though, he said he "came to realize how important a tool like Twitter is."
The ability to communicate with the world via text messages helped assuage fears he would "fall into a black hole," he said. "Whether it saved my life, or whether it just kept me sane, I don't know."
Buck hadn't used Twitter for very long before his trip. Ironically, his research in Egypt focused on bloggers and journalists who use such tools to keep up with news.
Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter, said he and some of the service's early users knew that it could be useful in emergencies because they used it to stay in touch after minor earthquakes in the Bay Area.
"Sometimes people take a look at it and aren't sure how it fits into their life," he said. "This kind of story paints a nice picture of a particular use case."
After reading this article I got all fired up and decided to see if using my Twitter account was any easier now than when I first signed up back in 2006.
Back then it was mos def TechnoDolt™-unfriendly, which is why I bagged it.
In the meantime I've continued to get emails from Twitter letting me know about the latest fan to be following my tweets — I'm up to 14 people now (top).
Too bad I never tweet.
Anyway, I went to the site, logged in and then tried to send a tweet from my cell phone.
25 minutes later, thoroughly annoyed and irritated, I succeeded.
Bag that, I'm just gonna avoid Egyptian jails — seems a heckuva lot easier than sending a message to my Twitter page.
"This badass looking helmet will scare the crap out of any onlooker while you're enjoying your mid-day cruise. Not only is it lightweight, but it's very comfortable inside, and has a lot of breathing space."