Philip Seymour Hoffman's Alleged Drug Dealer, Robert Vineberg: I'm a 'Scapegoat'

02/10/2014 at 11:20 AM EST

Philip Seymour Hoffman's Alleged Drug Dealer, Robert Vineberg: I'm a 'Scapegoat'
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Victoria Will/Invision/AP
An alleged heroin dealer who was arrested following the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman says he and the late actor were friends who bonded over their mutual struggles with drug addiction.

Speaking from Rikers Island, where he is currently jailed on felony drug possession charges, Robert Vineberg offered condolences to Hoffman's family, but said that he's been made a "scapegoat" in the case as police seek answers after Hoffman's Feb. 2 death, the New York Post reports.

"He was my friend," said Vineberg, a jazz saxophonist and composer who has worked with Madonna, Wyclef Jean and the late Amy Winehouse. "I could have saved him. If I knew he was in town, I would've said 'Hey, let's make an AA meeting.' If I was with him, it wouldn't have happened. Not under my guard."

"He left me a voicemail in December saying, 'I'm clean,' " Vineberg added. "We'd text back and forth, 'Oh, I got one day on you!' 'No I've got one day on you.' "



Police say Hoffman's number was found on Vineberg's cell phone. Following a raid on Vineberg's Moss Street apartment, an informant told cops he'd witnessed Hoffman, 46, obtaining heroin there.

But Vineberg maintains that he and Hoffman had more in common than drug addiction.

"When we got together, we talked about books. And art. He was a normal guy. You wouldn't know he was an Oscar winner," he says. "He loved his kids. I offer my condolences to his family."



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