Heroin Suspect Had Philip Seymour Hoffman's Cell Number, Sources Say

By Ben Fractenberg and Janon Fisher  on February 6, 2014 7:08am

Slideshow
 Robert Vineberg and two college students were arrainged on drug charges in connection to what authorities believe was a fatal overdose by actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Accused Drug Dealer Had Philip Seymour Hoffman's Number in His Phone
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MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — A man arrested in connection with the drug sale police believe led to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman had the Oscar-winning actor's phone number in his cellphone, sources said.

A tipster led police to Robert Vineberg, 57, who had 250 bags of heroin and more than $1,200 cash in his Mott Street apartment when he was arrested Tuesday night, the Manhattan District Attorney said. Investigators said they could smell the drugs in his apartment.

Hoffman took out $1,200 from a supermarket ATM the night before he was found dead in the bathroom of his West Village apartment with a hypodermic needle in his arm, sources told DNAinfo New York.

The city Medical Examiner has not yet determined Hoffman's cause of death.

A grand jury indicted Vineberg Wednesday for third-degree drug possession after his arrest during a raid on his building. He was arraigned during night court and held without bail.

His lawyer, Ed Kratt, said Vineberg had "absolutely nothing to do with the death of Mr. Philip Seymour Hoffman.

"I hope the District Attorney will not use Mr. Vineberg as a scapegoat in that unfortunate incident."

Vineberg, a saxophone player who has reportedly recorded with David Bowie and Wyclef Jean, had no previous arrests, sources said.

Two 22-year-olds who lived in the same Mott Street apartment building as Vineberg were also indicted on cocaine and marijuana possession charges.

Police found marijuana and two bags of cocaine in the apartment of Julia Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, according to the complaint.

Judge Felicia Mennin made the rare move of holding all three defendants without bail.

Bail in New York state is set primarily to ensure that defendants return to court, however prosecutors made no arguments that any of the defendants were a flight risk.

Luchkiw, whose lawyer Stephen Turano said was a dual major at Parsons School of Design with a 3.5 GPA, seemed stunned by the judge's decision to hold her in jail.

She gasped when Mennin made her ruling. 

"This is happening. This is happening," she said as she looked around the courtroom.

Turano said the college student with no previous arrests, according to sources, had nothing to do with drug sales.

"I think it's really wrong place, wrong time," he said. "She's very concerned with the classes she'll miss."

Rosenblum's lawyer also denied his client played a role in the actor's death.

"Searching for a scapegoat to solve the overdose of an addict is a fool's errand. My client is not responsible for Philip Seymour Hoffman's death," Daniel Hochheiser said.

Rosenblum has three prior arrests for possession of marijuana and other drugs, according to sources.

Prosecutors said they opted not to charge a fourth man who was at the Mott Street apartment building Tuesday night, Thomas Cushman, because he could not be linked to the drugs.

Vineberg's lawyer promised to return to court Thursday to seek bail for his client.

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