Democratic Donor Ed Buck Faces Federal Charges Tied to 2017 Death of Gemmel Moore: Officials

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Federal prosecutors announced on Thursday that they have filed charges against prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck in connection with the 2017 death of Gemmel Moore at his West Hollywood apartment.
Ed Buck made his first court appearance on Sept. 19, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
Ed Buck made his first court appearance on Sept. 19, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
Buck, 65, has been charged with providing methamphetamine to a victim who died after receiving the drug intravenously, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. An affidavit outlines what U.S. District Attorney Nicola Hanna described as a “disturbing” pattern in which he said Buck would offer money and drugs in exchange for sex at his residence in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue. The defendant is accused of providing the meth that resulted in the overdose of Moore, who was 26 when he died on July 27, 2017. His death was ruled an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. The criminal complaint also alleges another man also died from a drug overdose at Buck’s apartment earlier this year. Though neither the complaint nor federal officials identified the victim, the date given — Jan. 7 — matches up to when 55-year-old Timothy Dean suffered a fatal overdose at the residence. No one called 911 until at least 15 minutes after Dean died, according to the autopsy report. His death was ruled an accident, and the cause was listed as methamphetamine and alcohol toxicity. Despite the second overdose death at his home, the political activist continued soliciting men in exchange for sex. Several months ago, during the investigation, personnel from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department located a homeless man in a West Hollywood park who told them he had two encounters with Buck, including one where he lost consciousness after being injected with meth, according to Hanna. The victim told investigators he heard about Buck from other men, who said they referred to Buck as “Dr. Kevorkian” because he was “well known for compensating male prostitutes with drug and money,” Hanna said. There are 10 other victims in the federal case, including nine who told investigators that Buck gave them narcotics or encouraged them to inject drugs as part of an agreed upon compensation for sexual services, according to Hanna. The last victim was a 37-year-old man who overdosed at his apartment twice, once on Sept. 4 and again on Sept. 11, the federal complaint stated. The victim had been living with Buck until earlier this month, and alleged he had been injected with meth daily, according to Hanna. He overdosed twice, resulting in two hospitalizations, but survived. Buck was arrested and charged Tuesday, six days after the victim’s second overdose, authorities said. Activists had been calling for Buck’s arrest and prosecution in connection with the deaths of Moore and Dean long before the prominent donor was taken into custody. Local prosecutors had previously cited insufficient evidence to file charges against Buck. Now the DA’s office is pursuing charges against Buck including battery, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house. In the filing from Tuesday, prosecutors depicted him as a “violent, dangerous sexual predator. They allege he used drugs, money, and shelter as bait to lure men struggling with addiction and homelessness into his apartment, where he “manipulates them into participating in his sexual fetishes,” according to court documents. If convicted on the original charges, Buck would have faced up to five years and eight months in state prison. But local and federal officials worked together to build a tougher case, which could result in Buck potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars if he’s convicted on the latest charges. “Under state law, we determined there was insufficient admissible evidence to hold him responsible for the deaths of Mr. Moore and Mr. Dean,” L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey explained at the news conference. “Ultimately, we arrived at the conclusion that there were more options under federal law that can carry a lengthier prison sentence.” The federal charges carry a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison, and a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to Hanna. Buck appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court in downtown L.A. Thursday. Later in the afternoon, he appeared in U.S. District Court but was not asked to enter a plea in regards to the federal charges, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California. Prosecutors planned to ask that the defendant be held without bond pending trial because they believe he poses a “significant risk” to public safety, according to Hanna. In the local case, Buck was being held on $4 million bail. However, he has been transferred into federal custody. Mrozek said Buck would be held in custody until his next appearance in federal court scheduled for Sept. 26 after no determination on bond was made Thursday. Meanwhile, he has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 3 and his arraignment in L.A. County was postponed until Oct. 11. KTLA’s Jennifer Thang and Marissa Wenzke contributed to this story.  Correction: A previous version of this article gave an incorrect age for Moore. This post has been updated. 

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