The New York Daily News reports that the NYPD raided an apartment on Mott Street last night, after receiving an anonymous tip that the heroin that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman may have been purchased there . Among those arrested in the raid was 57-year-old studio musician Robert Vineberg. Here’s what we know about him:
1. He Had Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Number in His Phone
During the raid, Vineberg was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to the New York Post, three cellphones with Hoffman’s number were found in the apartment at 302 Mott Street. Cops believe Vineberg was the “key player,” within this little operation.
Vineberg’s stepddaughter, Christina Soto told told the Post that her father had been selling heroin since November, and recalled seeing 50 to 100 bags of the drug at his home on recent visits. However, those bags, like the ones discovered on the night of the raid, did not bear the same “Ace of Spades” labels as the bags found with Hoffman at the time of his death.
Sources told NYDN that police aren’t certain that any of those arrested actually sold the lethal heroin to Hoffman, or if they are merely a part of a larger distribution system that supplied the actor with the drugs.
2. He Toured With Wyclef Jean For a Decade
Under the name Robert Aaron, Vineberg has been collecting music credits as a studio musician since early 80’s. According to Vineberg’s LinkedIn page, he toured extensively, playing keyboard for for rapper Wyclef Jean’s band from 1998-2008.
Among the artists Vineberg claims to have recorded with are David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, and Amy Winehouse.
In 2010, as Robert Aaron, he released his own album titled Trouble Man . The album’s is described by its press release as:
“…a journey in jazz as it was lived and defined in the Seventies; no borders, no conventions…When you listen to this album, you experience the profound and now rare feeling of what drives the playing and writing of an exceptional musician. We call it ‘soul’, that paradoxical state when the profane and the sacred, joy and sorrow merge into one.”
You can listen to track “The Saddest Kiss” above.
3. He Denies Having Sold Heroin to Hoffman
According to The Daily Mail, Vineberg was vocal about his innocence upon his arrest.
His step-daughter said that her father had known Hoffman for a few months but that “he had nothing to do with what killed him.”
When asked whether her father ever sold to Hoffman, Soto replied, “I’d rather not say. It’s my father, so I can’t.”
4. He Left Home at Age 14
On his LinkedIn, under education, Vineberg writes that he attended the “university of the streets” and “the school of hard knocks.”
According to the aforementioned press release, Vineberg left his hometown of Montreal when he was 14, and fed himself by busking on the streets of 1970’s Brooklyn. He became a regular on the No Wave scene and was an original member of James Chance and the Contortions. While performing with them, he was spotted by David Bowie who asked him to record his “Let’s Dance” album.
5. He Was a Lousy Neighbor
A neighbor described Vineberg to The Daily Mail as a “gregarious and social man who sometimes seemed spaced out,” but went on to say:
“I used to throw shoes at the wall because he used to play My Funny Valentine at 3 am. He’s an amazing musician but at that time in the morning, it wasn’t funny.”
Vineberg keeps two apartments in the Mott Street building, using one as a home, the other as a recording studio.