Wealthy political donor Ed Buck was charged with four additional felonies Tuesday in a new indictment alleging he lured men into interstate prostitution — including Gemmel Moore, one of the men who’s fatally overdosed in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment.
Buck, 65, was arrested last September after a man overdosed on methamphetamine in his apartment, following the deaths of Moore in July 2017 and Timothy Dean in January 2019. Federal charges were subsequently filed accusing him of intravenously administering meth resulting in Moore and Dean’s deaths.
Buck has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic causes.
Prosecutors say he preyed on vulnerable men — most of them Black, some of them homeless and addicted to drugs — and pressured them to take drugs or let him inject them with narcotics as part of sexual activity known as “party and play.”
Buck has denied the accusations.
The new charges returned Tuesday by a grand jury allege Buck enticed Moore to travel to Southern California for prostitution before the 26-year-old’s death. Buck is also charged with enticing a second man to travel with the intent of prostitution, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
The remaining charges allege Buck knowingly and intentionally distributing meth, and that he used his apartment to distribute meth along with gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam, both sedatives.
Buck now faces a total of nine counts in the federal case, and another three separate counts in a case prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which include battery causing serious injury, administering meth and maintaining a drug house.
Prosecutors say Buck targeted his victims through social media, including gay dating website Adam4Adam, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men.
After men were lured into his apartment, he would prepare methamphetamine syringes and inject them — sometimes without their consent, the indictment alleges. At other times, he would inject the men with higher doses than they expected, or inject them while they were already unconscious, authorities said.
In one encounter, an escort says Buck administered a drug that caused him to lie motionless on the floor for six hours. Buck told him to leave, but he couldn’t move, according to the criminal complaint filed last year.
The man alleges that Buck then threatened him with a whirring power saw.
Jasmyne Cannick, a communications strategist who led the effort to seek justice for Moore, said the new charges show men were being truthful when they “told their stories of the white man in West Hollywood who loved to inject Black men with meth.”
Buck’s federal trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 19, 2021, and he’s expected to be arraigned on the new counts in the coming weeks.
The defendant faces a maximum penalty of life without parole if convicted as charged. He is expected to answer to the L.A. County charges once the federal case has concluded.
Buck remains in federal custody without bail.
Buck ran unsuccessfully in 2007 for City Council in West Hollywood, which is known for its large LGBTQ community. He has donated at least $340,000 to Democratic campaigns and causes over many years.
Buck, who was an AIDS activist, gained fame by leading a 1987 campaign to recall Republican Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, who was ultimately convicted in an impeachment trial and kicked out of office.
Buck had been a Republican, but said he switched party affiliation to Democrat because he felt the GOP was intolerant toward the gay community.
He has told reporters that he worked as a male model in Europe in his youth and returned to Phoenix, where he worked for a friend’s company, eventually buying it out of bankruptcy for $250,000 and turning it around for over $1 million profit.
He said he retired to West Hollywood in 1991 at the age of 37 and became active in animal rescue efforts.