Officials: NY Suspect Had Hoffman's Cell Number

Jazzman 'turned to dealing when gigs dried up'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2014 10:57 PM CST
Updated Feb 6, 2014 4:30 AM CST
Vineberg, 57, has recorded under the name Robert Aaron.   (online news)

(Newser) – A struggling jazzman busted in a drug raid linked to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman had the actor's phone number in his cell phone, law enforcement officials say. Robert Vineberg, 57, is among three people facing drug charges after the raid, reports the Wall Street Journal. He has been indicted for felony possession of heroin with intent to sell and he is being held without bail. Two other people busted in the raid—during which two other phones with Hoffman's number were found—have been indicted on drug possession charges, while a fourth has been freed due to lack of evidence, TMZ finds; all three suspects pleaded not guilty yesterday, NBC New York reports.

The New York Daily News has more background on Vineberg, a saxophonist who goes by the name Robert Aaron and has played with artists including David Bowie and Paul Simon. His stepdaughter says he knew Hoffman for several months, and only started selling drugs when the gigs dried up. "He got into this because right now he couldn’t find any work—anything," she says. "This is the only thing he could think of. He couldn’t even find work washing dishes." Vineberg's lawyer insists his client had nothing to do with Hoffman's death and he hopes he is not being made "a scapegoat in that unfortunate situation." (Read more Philip Seymour Hoffman stories.)

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