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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    Woman accused of wheeling dead ‘uncle’ into bank to sign loan

    Brasília — The woman arrives at the bank pushing a man in a wheelchair. His eyes are closed; his head lolls wildly.

    “Uncle Paulo, are you listening?” Érika de Souza Vieira Nunes asks. “You need to sign it. If you don’t sign it, there’s no way. I can’t sign it for you.”

    But Paulo Roberto Braga doesn’t respond, a video recorded Tuesday shows.

    The 68-year-old man is dead.

    In an incident that has gone viral here, police say Nunes, 42, took Braga’s body to a bank branch in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday afternoon to secure a loan of about $3,250.

    “Anyone watching the video can tell he was dead,” Fábio Souza, the lead police investigator, told the television network Globonews. “Can you imagine her? she was touching him. She knew he was dead.”

    Now Nunes is charged with theft by fraud and abusing a corpse. Police now are working to determine her relationship with Braga and how he died, Souza said, and looking for the person who drove them to the scene.

    Nunes has told investigators that Braga was alive when they entered the bank, police said. She has identified herself as his niece and caregiver.

    The incident began before 2 p.m. Tuesday, when Nunes arrived at the Banco Itaú branch. Employees noted Braga’s appearance, became suspicious, and began recording video.

    “I don’t think he’s okay,” one employee observes. “There’s no color in his face.”

    “He’s like that,” Nunes says.

    Nunes takes hold of his head, the video shows. She tries to fit a pen between his fingers.

    The bank called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they said Braga had been dead for several hours.

    Souza said investigators identified the presence of livor mortis (the settling of blood no longer circulated by the heart) — an indication, he said, that he died lying down, not sitting up in the wheelchair.

    Nunes told investigators that Braga was hospitalized last week with pneumonia but was discharged on Monday. Security video taken Monday shows her leaving the hospital with Braga, then still alive, in a wheelchair.

    The bank video circulated widely on social media here, inspiring memes and commentary.

    “What a depressing scene,” one X user wrote.

    Some poked fun at the scene. Others said it was nothing to laugh about. Some took the opportunity to condemn President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or his predecessors, lament the state of morality in Brazil or declare the end times.

    Some said it cast the country in an unfairly negative light.

    “Brazil is not that,” wrote another. “Extreme cases like this exist everywhere in the world.”

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.