Two suspects in Philip Seymour Hoffman probe released until court date
NEW YORK, NY — Two people arrested in connection with the drugs found in actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment were released Thursday until their next court dates.
Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum, both 22, were among four people arrested in a raid Tuesday night in which police recovered 350 small plastic bags of what is believed to be heroin, law enforcement officials told CNN. The bags of alleged heroin were branded “black list” and “red bull” — not the same brands found in Hoffman’s apartment, the officials said.
A police source said the Manhattan apartments where the four were picked up are part of the investigation into Hoffman’s death.
The four under investigation in connection with drugs sold to Academy Award-winning actor were identified as Luchkiw; Rosenblum; Robert Vineberg, 57; and Thomas Cushman, 48.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office Wednesday declined to prosecute Cushman because there was no evidence he had any control over the drugs.
Luchkiw, who pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, appeared Thursday before Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Edward McLaughlin.
Luchkiw’s attorney, Stephen Turano, told the court his client has 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, saying it was a misdemeanor case and it was “illogical” to assume she would fail show for her February 14 court date.
“My client absolutely did not, is not involved in selling any drugs, certainly not heroin, but any drugs and certainly not involved in selling drugs to Mr. Hoffman,” Turano said outside court.
Turano said a search of her apartment turned up cocaine, though prosecutors told the court traces of what was believed to be heroin also were present.
“She’s tied to this case because there was a confidential informant who placed sales of narcotics — heroin — from, I guess, an adjacent apartment,” he said. “How that ties into my client’s apartment, I’m not sure. But I can be very adamant that my client had nothing to do with the sales. And again, I think I said it before, really, wrong place, wrong time.”
Luchkiw walked out of court with her father.
Rosenblum appeared before McLaughlin later Thursday and pleaded not guilty. The judge said Rosenblum, who had previously failed to show up in court in connection with a 2010 drug possession case, “did flip his nose at the court for three years.”
His lawyer David Hochheiser said Rosenblum would live with his parents until his court date on Tuesday. McLaughlin set bond at $35,000, or $8,500 cash, which his family posted.
Vineberg, who faces a felony charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance and has pleaded not guilty, is set to appear in court February 14.
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.
A former neighbor described Vineberg as a talented musician who used the stage name Robert Aaron and once toured with Wyclef Jean. Vineberg had a wife and daughter, said the neighbor, who lived in the building years ago.
“He used to practice at night,” said the ex-neighbor, recalling that Vineberg played keyboards. “Honestly, he seemed like a nice guy, always playing music. Nothing sinister.”
Vineberg’s attorney, Edward Kratt, said he hopes prosecutors will not use his client as a scapegoat.
“These charges have absolutely nothing to do with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s unfortunate death,” Kratt said.
A spokeswoman for the New York medical examiner’s office said Wednesday 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 Sunday, they found the actor, 46, 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.
Police are trying to piece together the actor’s movements last weekend.
A law enforcement source told CNN that the night before Hoffman died, he withdrew $1,200 from a grocery store ATM near his apartment.
Hoffman got the money in six transactions Saturday night, according to the source.
A witness told investigators he saw the actor talking to two men wearing messenger bags about 8 p.m.
Police are also reviewing surveillance video, including that of a restaurant where Hoffman had brunch Saturday morning with two people.
A family friend of Hoffman’s said a small, private wake will be held Thursday evening at Manhattan’s Frank E. Campbell funeral home.
Hoffman’s funeral will be held Friday afternoon at St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Manhattan.
By Shimon Prokupecz, Sheila Steffen and Ray Sanchez
CNN’s Jason Carroll, Brian Vitagliano, Adam Reiss, Faith Karimi and Nischelle Turner contributed to this report.
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