Musician claims 300 bags of heroin found after Philip Seymour Hoffman death were 'for personal use'

Robert Vineberg, a friend of the late actor, said he did not supply drugs

A musician charged with intent to deal heroin amid the investigation into Philip Seymour Hoffman's death has said he kept 300 bags of heroin for "personal use".

Veteran jazz and pop performer Robert Vineberg was arrested when police following a tip-off after the actor's death found about 300 small bags of heroin, worth about $10 (£6) apiece on the street, and $1,300 (£777) in cash in Vineberg's apartment and music studio.

Vineberg, 57, faces a charge of possessing heroin with an intent to sell it but is not accused of playing a role in Mr Hoffman's apparent overdose on 2 February.

He said he was a friend of the Academy Award-winning actor but didn't sell the heroin that authorities found in his apartment.

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

He noted that police didn't report finding scales, rubber stamps used to brand drugs, or various other packaging materials to suggest major dealing. 

"Mr. Vineberg is committed to confronting his problem and is committed to treatment," said Mr Kratt, adding that Vineberg's addiction had sapped his ability to work.

But a judge expressed scepticism over the  argument that the musician was just a drug user caught up in a high-profile probe.

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 in cash, you draw your own conclusions,” McLaughlin said.

He set a $200,000 bond or $40,000 cash bail for Vineberg, who had been held without bail since his arrest last week. Friends were working to raise the money.

Under the name Robert Aaron, Vineberg has a musical career that dates to the early 1980s.

He played saxophone, flute and keyboards on albums by artists including David Bowie and Mick Jagger, and more recently, Wyclef Jean and the late Amy Winehouse.

“He's one of the most well-rounded musicians I've known,” said Duke Guillaume, a jazz saxophone player and one of about 20 friends who went to court on Friday to show support for Vineberg.

“He an extrovert when it comes to music — otherwise, he's a very relaxed guy,” he added.

Mr Guillaume and others said they were unaware of Vineberg's drug problem before his arrest.

Vineberg told the New York Post in a jail interview on Saturday that he and Mr Hoffman had been friends for about a year and last communicated by text message in December, trading messages about their mutual efforts at sobriety.

“If I knew he was in town, I would've said, 'Hey, let's make an AA meeting,”' he said, according to the Post.

Mr Hoffman said in interviews last year that he had sought treatment for a heroin problem after 23 years of sobriety.

Associated Press

Last months of actor’s life paint a private struggle to cope with the breakdown of his personal life
Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman mourned at funeral in New York
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine