Suspect in Hoffman probe granted bail
Updated On: Feb 14 2014 09:31:01 PM CST
A 57-year-old musician arrested in connection with the drugs found in actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment was granted bail Friday.
The musician, Robert Vineberg, was among four people arrested in Manhattan in the days after the apparent heroin overdose of the Academy Award-winning actor on February 2.
Prosecutors said Vineberg, who was arrested on a felony charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, had just under 50 small bags of heroin as well as packaging paraphernalia in his apartment during the raid. In another one of his apartments in the same Mott Street building, prosecutors said, 250 small bags of heroin were found.
In addition, prosecutors said, detectives recovered nearly $1,300 in cash on Vineberg.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Edward McLaughlin set bail at $200,000 bond or $40,000 cash. Vineberg is due back in court Tuesday.
Vineberg's attorney, Edward Kratt, asked for a lower bail, saying his client has been an "accomplished musician" since the late 1980s and a "functioning heroin addict" with a 10-bag-a-day habit. The large quantity of drugs found in the apartments were for Vineberg's personal use, Kratt said.
The judge, however, appeared to doubt that assertion, saying that the amount of heroin in Vineberg's possession was "off the charts."
Vineberg was found to have the actor's phone number stored in his cell phone, a law enforcement official told CNN. Police discovered the largest amount of what is believed to be heroin in his apartment, the source said.
Outside court, Kratt said his client hoped to raise bail money with the help of friends.
Asked if his client sold heroin to Hoffman, Kratt said: "I really can't comment on that. I know that he did have a relationship with Mr. Hoffman as a friend, how that translated into other aspects of their behavior, I really can't comment."
Michael Holman, a friend of Vineberg who attended the hearing, described Vineberg as "very talented, very generous, very smart."
"We are shocked and believe that he is being railroaded for political reasons," Holman said outside court. "It's convenient that they find someone to blame for ... Philip Seymour Hoffman's overdose and death but I just don't believe that Robert had anything to do with it, and the fact that he might have been friends with him is no surprise. Robert was friends with a lot of people, a lot of important people, a lot of important artists."
Two other people arrested in connection with Hoffman's death -- Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, both 22 -- were released last week until their next court dates.
Luchkiw pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Her attorney, Stephen Turano, told the court his client had no criminal record. He said her father, who was present in court, is a lawyer and her mother a doctor. The prosecution asked for Luchkiw's bail to be set at $1,500, but McLaughlin ordered her released on her own recognizance.
Rosenblum, who is to live with his parents until his next court date, had bond set at $35,000, or $8,500 cash, which his family posted.
Prosecutors did not file charges against a fourth person arrested in the raid.
The New York medical examiner's office said a determination of the cause and manner of Hoffman's death is pending further study, including toxicology reports.
When police were called to Hoffman's fourth-floor Manhattan apartment, they found the 46-year-old actor lying on the bathroom floor with a syringe in his left arm. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, his eyeglasses still resting on his head, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the inquiry.
Investigators discovered close to 50 envelopes of what they believed was heroin in the apartment, the law enforcement sources said. They also found used syringes, prescription drugs and empty plastic bags of a type commonly used to hold drugs, the sources said.
Also found in Hoffman's apartment was his personal journal, resting on a living room TV stand, two law enforcement sources said.
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