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Man arrested after Philip Seymour Hoffman death avoids jail time

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
updated 8:46 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Robert Vineberg was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a felony.
Robert Vineberg was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a felony.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Vineberg was among four people arrested after the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman
  • Oscar-winning actor was found dead February 2 of an apparent overdose
  • Vineberg pleads guilty to a lesser drug charge, will get probation

New York (CNN) -- Prosecutors on Thursday dropped a drug possession with intent to sell charge against a musician who was arrested earlier this year in connection with the heroin overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

In return, Robert Aaron Vineberg pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office. He will serve no jail time.

Vineberg will be sentenced October 14 to five years of probation, forfeiture of $1,284 confiscated from his apartment after his arrest and 25 days of community service, said Joan Vollero, director of communications for the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Vineberg also will attend an outpatient drug treatment program.

Philip Seymour Hoffman appears in 2013's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Hoffman played the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, the head gamemaker in the film. He was expected to appear in more films of the "Hunger Games" franchise, but he was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on February 2. Hoffman died of acute mixed drug intoxication, the New York medical examiner's office said. Click through the gallery for more highlights of his career. Philip Seymour Hoffman appears in 2013's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Hoffman played the role of Plutarch Heavensbee, the head gamemaker in the film. He was expected to appear in more films of the "Hunger Games" franchise, but he was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on February 2. Hoffman died of acute mixed drug intoxication, the New York medical examiner's office said. Click through the gallery for more highlights of his career.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Master of film
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Coroner: Hoffman died of acute drug mix
Four arrested in Hoffman death

Vineberg, who is from Canada, could face immigration consequences in light of his felony plea to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, Vollero said. He was originally also charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, which included intent to sell.

Vineberg was among four people arrested in Manhattan in the days after Hoffman's death.

Prosecutors said Vineberg had just under 50 small bags of heroin as well as packaging paraphernalia in his apartment during a raid. Additionally, 250 small bags of heroin were found in another of Vineberg's apartments in the same building, prosecutors said.

Vineberg, 58, was found to have the actor's phone number stored in his phone, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Calls to Vineberg's lawyer were not immediately returned.

The guilty plea comes the same day that the city's health department released 2013 data showing that heroin overdose deaths have doubled since 2010 in New York City.

The city's health department said that 77% of drug overdose deaths in 2013 involved an opioid, including opioid analgesics (prescription painkillers), methadone or heroin. "On average, there is more than one fatal opioid overdose a day," according to the release.

How heroin kills you

Man arrested in Hoffman case gets a no-jail deal

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