Ed Buck sentenced in drug deaths case
LOS ANGELES - A former Democratic political donor who supplied drugs to two men who overdosed in his West Hollywood apartment was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in federal prison.
Ed Buck, who was found guilty last year of nine felony counts, faced between 20 years and life in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors said he 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.
"Buck's insatiable appetite for injecting people turned lethal twice," according to the memo, which recommends a life sentence.
"He will be a danger to the community until the day he dies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Norell told the court.
LOS ANGELES CA SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 -- Prominent Democratic Party donor Ed Buck appears in court Thursday, September 19, 2019, on state charges of running a drug den in his West Hollywood apartment. Buck may also face federal prosecution for an earlier
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."
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The two victims, Gemmel Moore and Timothy 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 allege that 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.
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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.
An acquittal motion argued that the only evidence that Buck distributed methamphetamine and other drugs at his apartment was bolstered by "the testimony of a parade of financially motivated houseless individuals" and drug addicts and should not have been believed, defense attorneys said.
U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder denied the motion last week.
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