UK & World News

  • 15 February 2014, 11:47

Hoffman's Alleged Dealer: Drugs Were For Me

A lawyer for a musician arrested during an investigation into the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman says 300 bags of heroin allegedly found in his New York City home and studio would have been largely for his own use.

Robert Vineberg, 57, is charged with possessing heroin with the intent to sell it.

He was held as police made inquiries into the death of Hoffman on February 2 from an apparent heroin overdose.

Defence lawyer Edward Kratt said Vineberg has a 10-bag-a-day heroin addiction and much of the alleged stash "was for his own use."

Vineberg, who was in court seeking bail, has not been charged in connection with Hoffman's death.

He has said he was a friend of the Oscar-winning actor but did not sell the heroin that authorities found in Hoffman's apartment.

Police investigating the actor's death, found about 300 small bags of heroin, and $1,300 in cash in Vineberg's apartment and music studio, which are both are in the same building in Manhattan's East Village.

Mr Kratt noted that police didn't report finding scales, rubber stamps or other packaging materials to suggest major drug dealing.

"Mr. Vineberg is committed to confronting his problem and is committed to treatment," he said.

But state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin said that in some other cases, experts have testified that considerably smaller amounts of heroin were big enough to imply a plan to sell.

"If he has no job that produces income and has $1,300 (775) in cash, you draw your own conclusions," he said.

The judge set bond at $200,000 (119,000).

Under the name Robert Aaron, Vineberg has a musical career that dates back to the early 1980s, and has played saxophone, flute and keyboards on albums by artists including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and the late Amy Winehouse.

In an interview from jail with the New York Post, Vineberg said that he and Hoffman had been friends for about a year and last been in touch by text message in December, exchanging messages about their efforts at sobriety.

Police believe the actor died of a drugs overdose, and found bags of heroin in his apartment. The official results of the post-mortem are delayed pending further toxicology tests.

Hoffman, widely considered among the best actors of his generation, was nominated four times for an Academy Award. He earned the coveted Oscar for his portrayal of American writer Truman Capote in 2005.

He also received three Tony nominations for his work on Broadway, which included an acclaimed turn in 2012 as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman.

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