Two night after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a needle sticking out of his arm, police raided the apartment of Robert Aaron Vineberg on a tip he might have sold heroin to Hoffman, says the New York Times. Vineberg, known as Aaron, led them to 296 glassine bags of heroin with a street value of $3,000. The Times says Aaron “was suddenly a national news figure, at the intersection of criminal justice, celebrity and the media. In the blur of instant news reports, he was … the man who sold deadly heroin to the beloved Oscar-winning actor.” He denies selling to Hoffman, a friend. He admits to possessing heroin and intending to sell some of it.
He faces three felony charges, the most serious carrying prison time of up to 25 years, and possible deportation (he came to the U.S. legally from Canada as a teenager). “At some level it's like the Salem witch trials,” he said. “You can't have a witch hunt without a witch. I'm just unlucky enough to be the guy. You gotta have a human sacrifice, and that's what I am.” Hoffman's death brought new attention to heroin use in New York City. After years of steady decline, heroin-related deaths jumped between 2010 and 2012, the most recent year for which the health department has compiled statistics, to 382 from 209. The amount of heroin seized in the city by authorities is also up. The rate of heroin-related deaths remained lower than it was for most of the previous decade.