As the investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's death continues, police have arrested three people on drug charges.
The three -- Robert Vineberg, 57, Max Rosenblum, 22, and his girlfriend Juliana Luchkiw, also 22 -- were arrested during a raid on a building in Lower Manhattan. Police were tracing what they believed to be the source of the heroin suspected of playing a role in the Oscar-winning actor's death. A fourth person was also arrested in the raid, but charges against him were later dropped, The New York Times reports.
What will prosecutors need to prove to make their case?
Drug Possession Charges
The three were arrested for drug possession after police seized more than 350 packets of heroin during a raid on their apartments, reports the Times.
Vineberg was charged with felony drug possession, while the other two were charged with misdemeanor drug possession. All three were held without bail. The district attorney's office charged Luchkiw after a small amount of cocaine was found in the apartment that she and Rosenblum share; no heroin was found there.
You may notice that none of these defendants have been charged with drug distribution. This is likely because investigators are still working on finding a link between Hoffman's death and the alleged dealers' business.
The police found Hoffman dead with a needle in his left arm and dozens of heroin packets, some with the label "Ace of Spades" or with a mark for an ace of hearts. However, the packets found during the arrests on Tuesday did not have those markings, reports the Times.
Proving Intent to Distribute
If the three are ultimately charged with drug distribution, prosecutors will need to prove the three had intent to distribute the drugs allegedly found in their possession.
To build a case against the three on drug distribution charges, prosecutors will likely rely on circumstantial evidence. A number of circumstantial factors can help establish intent to distribute, such as:
- An observed drug deal,
- Large quantities of drugs,
- Drugs packaged for sale,
- Scales and drug paraphernalia nearby,
- Money lying around, and
- Messages from customers.
Unfortunately for Luchkiw, a college student who shares an apartment with Rosenblum, if it turns out only Rosenblum was selling drugs out of their apartment, she could still face criminal charges.
As for the cause of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, the medical examiner's office is still awaiting the results of toxicology tests, according to the Times.
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