NEW YORK &

Their bumbling actions have brought two guys in an alleged check-cashing scam worldwide attention for their only-in-New York similarities to the dark comedy, "Weekend at Bernie's."




But as James O'Hare and David Daloia allegedly pushed the lifeless body of friend and roommate Virgilio Cintron to the Pay-O-Matic Check Cashing spot in an office chair on Tuesday to cash a check, they claim they had no idea he was dead.




"He looked like that every &

"" morning," Daloia said, of Cintron's appearance the day in question. "I didn't know he was dead. (O'Hare) had $500 in his pocket. I had $200. Why would I rob the guy?"




Bailed out of jail overnight Thursday &

where they had been cooling their heels since their arrest on Tuesday on charges of attempted forgery, attempted possession of a forged instrument and petty larceny for attempting to cash their friend's check &

the two 65-year-olds were back home Friday at their apartment to tell their side of the tale. They had no idea who paid $1,000 each to set them free but seemed happy to clarify certain aspects of the case.




For months now, O'Hare and Daloia said Friday, they had engaged in the same routine: Three times a month, they would set Cintron in the chair and take him to a check cashing spot where he would cash his Social Security check.




Old, frail and unemployed, the self-described holdovers of Hell's Kitchen's racier past say they cared for Cintron, 66, whose health had deteriorated over the years. "I'd never hurt the guy," Daloia said. "We took care of him. We wiped up after him."




While Cintron appears to have died of natural causes, as of Friday, a cause of death and how long he had been dead was still being investigated by the New York City Medical Examiner's Office.




Meanwhile, police said the duo plopped Cintron into a chair and wheeled him from the apartment to Pay-O-Matic several blocks away.




Cintron was left outside while his friends stepped inside. The clerk who knows Cintron as a regular customer said Cintron needed to sign his own $355 check.




The suspects went back outside to get Cintron, but his half-dressed slumped corpse had caused quite a stir among those passing by, including Detective Travis Rapp, who saw the scene as he ate lunch nearby.




The rest, as they say, is history.




Asked how he met Cintron, Daloia said while "using dope. We have been friends for 41 years ... He was a great guy. He was a wily guy, a real street hustler." Relatives of Cintron could not be reached Friday.




O'Hare disparaged the comparisons to "Weekend at Bernie's," the 1989 comedy in which two friends pretend their murdered boss is really alive as they haul him around the Hamptons while partying.




"Wonderful," O'Hare said sarcastically. "That's real funny. That was a good friend of ours for 50 years."




Daloia can't understand all the fuss.




"I robbed banks that got less coverage than this," Daloia said, adding as a matter-of-fact that he has held heists that grossed $1 million. Court records showed he has a robbery conviction going back to the 1970s, but it could not be determined whether it involved a bank robbery.




Rocco Parascandola contributed to this story.




Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service