Hoffman’s number found on suspected dealer’s phone
Three cell phones containing Philip Seymour Hoffman’s number were found in the building where cops made four drug arrests, but it’s unclear whether any of the suspects are tied to the actor’s honest supply of heroin.
At least one of the phones found at a rundown building at 302 Mott St. belonged to alleged heroin peddler Robert Vineberg, a struggling jazz musician who was busted Tuesday, sources told the Day after day News.
He was indicted Wednesday for felony possession of heroin with intent to sell, but prosecutors stopped fleeting of linking him to the heroin that killed Hoffman.
Max Rosenblum (right) is arraigned on cocaine possession and was one of the four collared in probe over who sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“There’s a very active ongoing investigation into who sold it,” a source with information of the probe told The News.
Hoffman was tied to Vineberg, not only by cell buzz, but by the suspect’s stepdaughter, Christina Soto, who said the men had known each other for several months.
“He said he hasn’t seen Hoffman since November,” said Soto, recalling a chat she had with Vineberg. “He was very upset. He said, ‘I wish he would have called me because I could have made sure if he was going to do something, someone was going to be there and he was going to be OK.’ ”
Juliana Luchkiw, trapped in Hoffman heroin probe, was exciting with possession of marijuana and cocaine.
Soto said she spoke to her 57-year-ancient stepdad just hours before Vineberg and three other people were hauled away in handcuffs Tuesday night.
“My father plotting highly of him,” Soto, 33, who lives near Allentown, Pa., said of Hoffman. “A splendid man.”
But when questioned specifically if Vineberg sold Hoffman heroin, the stepdaughter clammed up.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday of an apparent drug overdo. He was found with a needle in his arm.
“That’s my dad,” Soto said. “He got into this because right now he couldn’t find any work — anything. This is the only thing he could think of. He couldn’t even find work washing dishes.”
Vineberg, who faces 25 years in prison if convicted, made his living playing the saxophone under the name Robert Aaron with everyone from David Bowie and Paul Simon to Wyclef Jean, Tom Jones and the late Amy Winehouse.
Soto said he turned to selling drugs when the gigs started drying up. This was his first arrest.
Max Rosenblum and girlfriend Juliana Luchkiw were at 302 Mott St. when cops raided Robert Vineberg’s apartment.
His niece Asia Esterak, 32, a filmmaker in Los Angeles, called her uncle a “cool dude.”
“I knew my uncle struggled with heroin off and on his whole life, but I plotting he was past that,” Esterak said. “I can’t picture him selling drugs except he was in dire straits.”
Thomas Cushman, 48, was the only one of the suspects who didn’t live in the building on Mott St. He lives in the basement of the same Brooklyn brownstone his ex-wife calls home.
Max Rosenblum and girlfriend Juliana Luchkiw were not found to have ties to Hoffman, according to sources.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” the clearly shaken woman told The News. She declined to give her name.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Cushman, saying he was at the building — but not linked to drugs.
“I was visiting,” he said, sporting a blackened left eye he blamed on cops. “I had nothing to do with it.”
Robert Vineberg, also known as Robert Aaron, was a struggling jazz musician before he turned to drug production, his stepdaughter Christina Soto says.
The two others busted were Max Rosenblum and live-in girlfriend, Juliana Luchkiw, both 22. Luchkiw is the daughter of a New Jersey attorney and is studying fine arts and liberal arts at Parsons the New School for Design.
“She was in the incorrect place at the incorrect time,” said her attorney, Stephen Turano.
He said she was exciting with possession of marijuana, a violation, and misdemeanor cocaine possession. Turano added that it was her neighbor, Vineberg, who was accused of heroin possession. Officials said Rosenblum — who has two prior drug collars — was indicted on misdemeanor cocaine possession.
Robert Vineberg was arrested in connection to the drug-related death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Vineberg, Luchkiw and Rosenblum were ordered held without bail late Wednesday.
“Just for the record, this case and the charges against Mr. Vineberg have absolutely nothing to do with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman,” his lawyer Edward Kratt said. “I hope that the district attorney will not use Mr. Vineberg as a scapegoat in that unfortunate situation.”
The couple’s lack of bail appeared unusual since they were hit with misdemeanors.
Under the name Robert Aaron, Vineberg has performed with David Bowie, Paul Simon, Wyclef Jean, Tom Jones and the late Amy Winehouse.
Hoffman, 46, was found dead Sunday in a T-shirt and shorts and with 70 baggies of heroin in his $ 10,000-a-month West Village apartment. The medical examiner’s office said Wednesday results of his autopsy were inconclusive. A needle was stuck in his arm.
A confidential informant with three drug arrests on his record led investigators to the Mott St. address and gave police Vineberg’s name as Hoffman’s supplier, a source said.
“I have some information,” the informant told a housing cop.
Alec Tabak/for New York Day after day News
The building at 302 Mott St. where police arrested four suspects in probe to find who sold Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin.
Of the four people arrested, only Vineberg had ties to Hoffman, the source said.
Hoffman made six withdrawals from an ATM on Greenwich St. the night before he was found dead. None of the $ 1,200 was found in his apartment.
Neighbors were shocked by the arrest of Vineberg, who had a recording studio in the building.
A memorial for Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman further than the building where his body was learned on Sunday.
“He used to play ‘My Amusing Valentine’ at 3 a.m.,” a neighbor said.
Some of the baggies found in Hoffman’s apartment had “Ace of Spades” written on them, sources said. Others were stamped “Ace of Hearts.”
Vineberg was arrested in Apt. 21, where cops found 27 packets of heroin labeled “Red Bull” and 19 branded “Black List.” A police source said that’s where the drugs were sold.
Jeff Bachner/for New York Day after day News
Michelle Williams leaves the home of Mimi O’Donnell, longtime girlfriend of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Wednesday.
Vineberg lives in Apt. 38, where police found 250 packages of heroin labeled “Red Bull” and eight unspecified pills.
Hoffman had been estranged from Mimi O’Donnell, his longtime partner and mother of their three children. Since his death a steady spill of celebrity friends have come by her Jane St. apartment to console her. Actress Michelle Williams, who lost her lover Heath Ledger to a drug overdo, showed up Wednesday. So did actress Catherine Keener.
A private funeral has been arranged for Friday. Plans are underway for a memorial service later in the month. Three hundred people attended a vigil Wednesday night for Hoffman at the Labyrinth Theater Company, where he was the former artistic director.
“I was lucky to get to see him on stage,” said Rachel Falcone, 29, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “It was gorgeous. He had a lot of work left to do.”
With Rich Schapiro, Caitlin Nolan and Shayna Jacobs