Prominent Democratic Party donor Ed Buck appeared in court Thursday on state charges of running a drug den in his West Hollywood apartment, where a near-fatal overdose allegedly occurred last week, but he may also face federal prosecution for an earlier overdose death in the same residence.
Two fatal overdoses have occurred in Buck’s apartment — one in July 2017 and another in January of this year.
Buck, who is being held in lieu of $4 million bail, allegedly injected a man last week with “two dangerously large doses” of methamphetamine at Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue on Sept. 11. He allegedly administering a “dangerously large dose of methamphetamine” to the same man on week earlier, according to a bail memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes.
Buck allegedly refused to render aid to the man, who eventually fled from the apartment and called 911 from a nearby gas station, according to the document. The 37-year-old man suffered an overdose but survived, authorities said.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client — who allegedly was present at the location when the earlier fatal overdoses occurred — had any involvement in either death. He declined to comment on the newly filed case.
Buck, 65, was charged with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house, the District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday evening after Buck’s arrest. He appeared briefly in court in downtown Los Angeles, but his arraignment was delayed until Oct. 11.
In a memorandum filed with the court, the prosecutor wrote that Buck is “a violent, dangerous sexual predator” who “mainly preys on men made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness” and that he is “still a suspect in the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean.”
Moore, 26, was the first of two men to die at Buck’s apartment in less than 18 months. He was found dead of a crystal methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s home on July 27, 2017. The coroner ruled the death accidental.
On Jan. 7 of this year, a second man died of methamphetamine toxicity at Buck’s home. The death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood, was also ruled accidental.
On Wednesday, multiple media outlets — citing anonymous law enforcement sources — reported that Buck will also be charged in federal court in connection with the July 27, 2017, overdose death of Moore.
According to the reports, Buck will be charged with distributing drugs, resulting in death.
Last summer, the county District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Buck regarding Moore’s death, citing insufficient evidence. As for Dean’s death, the District Attorney’s Office has said that it remains under investigation.
But both deaths are cited in the bail memorandum filed by Barnes this week upon Buck’s arrest.
“Not deterred by the senseless deaths of Moore and Dean, the defendant nearly killed a third victim last week,” the deputy district attorney wrote. “The defendant’s predatory acts and conscious disregard for human life must be stopped.”
The prosecutor alleged that Buck lured “these vulnerable victims” to his house by using “the bait of narcotics, money and shelter.”
“From his home, in a position of power, Buck manipulates his victims into participating in his sexual fetishes. These fetishes include supplying and personally administering dangerously large doses of narcotics to his victims,” Barnes wrote in her court filing. “The defendant’s predatory acts and willful disregard for human life must be stopped before another life is lost.”
If convicted as charged, Buck faces a possible prison sentence of five years and eight months, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
In a statement released after Buck’s arrest, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said, “I remain deeply concerned for the safety of people whose life circumstances may make them more vulnerable to criminal predators. With this new evidence, I authorized the filing of criminal charges against Ed Buck.”
Buck and Lacey are being sued in federal court over Moore’s death. Moore’s mother alleges that Buck lured her son from Houston to Los Angeles for the purpose of engaging in “commercial” sex acts.
The civil lawsuit accuses Buck of human trafficking and engaging in “revenge porn” by making and sharing a video of his alleged “meth-fueled sexual encounters” with Moore.
Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum are named as co-defendants for allegedly violating Moore’s civil rights in their refusal to prosecute Buck.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, wrote, “It’s incomprehensible to me that it took a third man to be attacked and almost die to finally dissolve the unconscionable apathy that has allowed Ed Buck, a racist sexual predator, to roam free… Thanks to the tireless work of advocates and a community that has had enough, Los Angeles is a safer place. Now, justice must finally be served.”
Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has also been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council.
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