Democratic donor and political contributor Ed Buck pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court on Thursday to charges in connection with two overdose deaths of younger, gay black men at his West Hollywood home.
Democratic Donor Ed Buck Pleads Not Guilty to Drug Charges
A federal indictment alleges 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” — and that Buck is directly responsible for the overdose deaths of two men, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore in 2017 and 55-year-old Timothy Dean earlier this year.
The indictment alleges Buck solicited the men on social media platforms, including a gay dating website, and then injected them with methamphetamine with or without their consent, sometimes while they were unconscious.
He was taken into custody on Sept. 17 after a young, homeless man allegedly escaped Buck’s apartment after being injected with meth. But Buck was charged with running a drug den, not for the two deaths.
Speaking outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, friends and relatives of Moore and Dean expressed frustration that it took local authorities more than two years after Moore’s death to arrest Buck.
Holding Moore’s ashes in a container, friend Cory McLean said he and others warned local authorities that Buck was preying on other younger black men.
“We have 11 victims who came forward,” McLean said. “Think of the victims who didn’t come forward.”
Joyce Jackson, Timothy Dean's sister, also thanked federal prosecutors “for taking this case and making it move in a positive direction, because the district attorney was not doing that.”
LaTisha Nixon, Gemmel Moore's mother, commented on 65-year-old Buck’s brief court appearance.
“Seeing Ed Buck in court today, it just enraged me, because here’s this man who tries to appear feeble and that he can’t hear,” Nixon said. “We’re not buying it. We know he’s a monster.”
Nixon has an ongoing wrongful-death lawsuit against the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for failing to properly investigate and charge Buck after her son’s death.
Activists say Buck’s race, status and privilege protected him from arrest as allegations piled up for more than two years.
Last month, Jerome Kitchen, a friend of Gemmel Moore, said he believes Buck evaded arrest because he was a wealthy, white man and most of his victims were black.
“And society, our justice system has to answer up to that in order for other minorities and people from our community to feel safe and make sure we turn predators in," Kitchen said. "Ed Buck is one of many.”
In an email, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling declined to comment on the possibility that race was a factor in the decision not to bring charges against Buck earlier, but said the agency “is legally and ethically required and committed to only bring charges that have sufficient, admissible evidence to convince an objective jury of a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Buck’s trial is scheduled for Nov. 26. Under federal law, Buck faces a much longer sentence than state law, potentially decades instead of a few years.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, declined to comment for this report.