Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — A former Democratic political donor who supplied drugs to two men who overdosed in his West Hollywood apartment has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
Ed Buck, 67, was convicted last year of nine felony counts stemming from the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.
Evidence showed Buck lured young Black men who were often experiencing homelessness, addiction, and/or poverty to his apartment for sexually charged sessions in which he would inject them with methamphetamine and drug them with sedatives, with and without their consent.
“He will be a danger to the community until the day he dies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell told the court.
Before he was sentenced, Buck spoke briefly to U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder, and apologized “for my part in the tragic deaths of Gemmel and Timothy.”
“These are men I cared for and loved,” Buck said. “I did not cause their deaths.”
He asked Snyder to “look at the good in my life,” saying he is not the caricature of a “meth-fueled ax killer” that the government portrayed him to be.
Snyder called the case “one of the most difficult and tragic” she has ever presided over.
“These lives mattered,” she said. “What happened here was reprehensible conduct.”
Moore and Dean died of methamphetamine overdoses 18 months apart — Moore in July 2017 and Dean in January 2019.
After less than a day of deliberations on July 27, 2021 — the four-year anniversary of Moore’s death — a federal jury in downtown Los Angeles found Buck guilty of all charged counts.
Buck solicited his victims in various ways, including using social media platforms, dating and escort websites, or via referrals from prior victims, including individuals he hired to do other work for him, offering a finder’s fee for referrals, evidence showed.
Buck — who has donated more than $500,000 to mostly Democratic causes and served in 2016 as one of California’s Electoral College members — was convicted of two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death.
He was also found guilty of enticing Moore and another man to travel to Los Angeles to engage in prostitution; knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine; and using his West Hollywood apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
Prosecutors said Buck caused the deaths as a result of his “fetish” for injecting men with increasing doses of methamphetamine until they became comatose. The defense countered that the victims suffered from serious medical conditions that ended their lives.
Buck declined to testify in his own defense.
Over the course of the two-week trial, federal prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses, including four men who told of smoking methamphetamine that Buck provided and then being pressured to allow the defendant to inject them with the drug.
Arguing for a sentence of 10 years or less, Buck’s attorney, Mark Werksman, said that his client was “redeemable … a loving, caring man devoted to political causes.”
The defense attorney said that as a child, Buck had been sexually abused by his own father and church members, and later became addicted to the amphetamines he was prescribed to treat narcolepsy. That addiction led to a 20-year dependence on methamphetamine, which “fueled his dark side,” Werksman told the court.
Nearly 10 family members and friends of the victims gave impact statements to the court, asking Snyder to impose the maximum.
“All I can think about is how my son died — naked, on a mattress, with no love around him,” said a sobbing LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Moore.
Dean’s sister, Joann Campbell, said outside court that she was not satisfied with the 30-year sentence handed to Buck.
“I was hoping for more time for this man,” she said, conceding that “no amount of time will bring back my brother.”
As for Buck’s apology, Campbell said it was “too little, too late,” and makes no difference.
Addressing the family members, U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison said “no sentence would be enough to undo the harm that was done to you.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge said a restitution hearing would take place within 60 days. Prosecutors are asking for $51,562 to be paid to the victims’ families, and $400,000 in fines.