NEW YORK – At least one of four people taken into custody on drug charges during an investigation of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected fatal heroin overdose had the actor’s cellphone number, two law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
Investigators zeroed in on the four after a tipster, responding to publicity about Hoffman’s death, told police that he had seen Hoffman at the Greenwich Village apartment building where they were arrested Tuesday and that he believed that’s where Hoffman got the heroin, the officials said.
After obtaining search warrants for two apartments in the Manhattan building, police found about 350 packets of heroin in one of them, the officials said. They also learned from phone records that one of the suspects had Hoffman’s number, strengthening the theory that they may have supplied him with drugs, the officials said.
Some of the packets found in Hoffman’s apartment were variously stamped with the ace of hearts and others with the ace of spades. Those found in the building where the arrests occurred had different brand names, including Black List and Panda, the officials said.
Police were still waiting for a cause of death for the Oscar-winning actor from the Medical Examiner’s Office, which said Wednesday that more tests were needed.
There was no timetable for Hoffman’s autopsy to be finished, said Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman Julie Bolcer, who declined to discuss the pending tests. Toxicology and tissue tests are typically done in such cases.
Hoffman, 46, was found dead Sunday with a syringe in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his apartment in the West Village, law enforcement officials have said.
The four suspects face charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance. Two also face charges of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Courts have found that under state law drug dealers can’t be held liable for customers’ deaths.
A 1972 case in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court found that a dealer can’t be found guilty of manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide for selling heroin and syringes to a customer who later dies because, the court ruled, legislation enhancing punishment for drug crimes didn’t redefine homicide to include the sale of an illicit drug that results in death.
Investigators have determined that the “Capote” star made six ATM transactions for a total of $1,200 inside a supermarket near his home the day before his death, law enforcement officials have said.