LOS ANGELES - California political donor Ed Buck pleaded not guilty Friday to an updated indictment charging him with multiple felonies, including giving drugs to a man who overdosed and died at his West Hollywood apartment after being enticed across state lines for prostitution.
A bail reconsideration hearing was set for Sept. 25, at which time defense attorneys are expected to argue that Buck should be released to await trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently moving through jails and prisons. Buck, 66, has offered to put up a $400,000 signature bond and submit to electronic monitoring and home confinement, court papers show.
Prosecutors allege that Buck has a history of injecting men with drugs and paying them for sexual activity and emphasized in a court filing that a previous judge's ruling denied pretrial release on grounds of danger to the community.
Buck is scheduled to go to trial in Los Angeles federal court on nine counts next year. He also faces state charges of running a drug den, but the federal case will proceed first.
Buck was arrested last year after being charged in federal court with providing methamphetamine to a man who died after receiving the drug intravenously. Since then, federal authorities continued to investigate the defendant for additional crimes.
Buck now faces additional charges, including a count alleging that he enticed 26-year-old Gemmel Moore to travel to the Los Angeles area to engage in prostitution. Buck allegedly provided meth to Moore, who overdosed on the drug and died on July 27, 2017.
Buck also is charged with a second count for allegedly enticing a man to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution. He is also accused of knowingly and intentionally distributing meth, and of using his apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as meth, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
Trial is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Federal prosecutors allege that Buck "engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck's apartment," a practice described as "party and play," according to court papers.
Buck allegedly solicited victims on social media platforms, including a gay dating website, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men. Once the men were at his apartment, Buck allegedly prepared syringes containing meth, sometimes personally injecting the victims with or without their consent, according to the indictment.
Buck also allegedly injected victims with more narcotics than they expected and sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious. Another victim, Timothy Dean, also suffered a fatal overdose in Buck's apartment, on Jan. 7, 2019, the indictment alleges.
Each of the charges alleging the distribution of narcotics resulting in death carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison and possible maximum of life without parole.
Buck also faces charges, including operating a drug house, that were filed last year by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.