Ed Buck turns 30 after providing overdose medication

Ed Buck

Ed Buck

A wealthy and well-connected white California Democrat who had exploited and preyed on desperate people of color for years was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Thursday.

Ed Buck67, was convicted of two counts of distributing methamphetamine resulting in death, four counts of distributing methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug-involved business establishment, and two counts of enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution in July 2021.

Citing Buck’s age, his defense attorneys said even 25 years in prison would have been the “functional equivalent of a life sentence.”

The charges in this case arose from the overdose deaths of two black men nearly two years apart at the defendant’s often noisy and drug-filled West Hollywood apartment near Laurel Canyon. On July 27, 2017, 26 years old Gemmel Moore was found dead from a methamphetamine overdose. About 18 months lateron January 7, 2019, 55 years old Timothy Dean died out of a methamphetamine overdose.

However, none of these deaths initially led to charges.

Buck was just arrested in September 2019 after a third man overdosed at his home. The 37-year-old survived in this incident.

After years of criticism, condemnation and community pressure aimed at local law enforcement’s relaxed attitude to the spate of consistent black deaths at Buck’s home, federal law enforcement in Los Angeles has filed charges prominent progressive activist and donor to the Democratic Party with a number of charges and arguing in a bail application that he was “a predator with no regard for human life” who administered “dangerously large doses of narcotics” to his victims.

A replacement indictment filed almost a year later added additional charges and presented a theory of the case full of narratives about gender, race, class, money and power. Imbalances between the defendant and his victims, prosecutors said, are key to deciphering Buck’s motivation.

Evidence and testimony presented at the trial supported the government’s claim that Buck had a sexual fetish for black men. But that was underpinned by a desire for something a little more sinister. Buck also enjoyed so-called “party and play” sessions, during which he would pay addicted and lucky homeless men to use as many drugs – often methamphetamine – as they could stomach before they died.

“He took advantage of the wealth and balance of power between them by offering his victims money to take drugs and have Buck inject them with narcotics,” the US Department of Justice said in a press release after his conviction. “Once the men were at his home, Buck would prepare shots of methamphetamine and sometimes personally inject the victims with or without their consent. Buck also injected victims with more narcotics than they expected, and sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious.”

The DOJ welcomed the conviction in a press release on Thursday.

“This defendant preyed on vulnerable victims – men who were drug addicts and often homeless – to feed an obsession that led to death and misery,” said the US Attorney for the Central District of California Tracy L. Wilkison called. “Mr. Buck continues to pose a clear danger to society, as evidenced by the fact that he continues to lure men into his home, even after killing two men with lethal methamphetamine injections. Today’s verdict will protect other potential victims and hopefully offer some comfort to the families of two men who died unnecessarily in Mr. Buck’s apartment.”

In a sentencing note, the government called for a much higher penalty, asking for two life sentences plus 120 years in prison plus reparations, fines and charges. Buck’s defense, however, called for a much lesser sentence than federal guidelines for conviction.

(Screenshot via KCBS-TV)

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James Brien

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