Following allegations of involvement in forced-overdose deaths of two gay Black men and survival of a third victim, a wealthy White Democratic Party donor has been arrested and indicted on state and federal charges in California.
Ed Buck, 65, a businessman who has been a fixture in Hollywood political circles, took sexual gratification in forcibly injecting meth into the men, court papers say.
Federal charges include three counts of distributing meth and two counts of distributing methamphetamine resulting in death. State charges include three counts of battery causing serious injury, administering meth and maintaining a drug house.
Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55, both of whom were African American, died of accidental drug overdoses inside Buck’s apartment in July 2017 and January 2019, respectively. The Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to prosecute Moore’s case and didn’t seem to take action on Dean’s.
Since Moore’s death, multiple reports indicated Buck had a history of luring young, Black gay men to his apartment, where he would inject them with meth. Jasmyne Cannick, a local writer, activist, and political candidate who investigated Moore’s death, predicted on Twitter on July 28, 2018, that any further deaths at Buck’s residence would be the responsibility of the Los Angeles County District Attorney for failing to bring charges.
Following Dean’s death, a coalition of 50 civil rights organizations released a statement calling on local law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation of Buck’s role in the incident and on elected officials to return all contributions received from Buck.
A third victim, 37, survived an overdose and escaped from Buck’s home on Sept. 11, and reported Buck for injecting him. Only then did authorities act. Buck was arrested Sept. 17.
TOOK LONG ENOUGH
Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon and her supporters welcomed the arrest but criticized the time it took to put Buck behind bars and renewed their questions about whether a wealthy, White Democratic donor benefited because the victims were mostly gay Black men and drug users, some of whom were sex workers and homeless.
“If White gay men had been dying in a Black man’s house or anybody’s house, rather, this case would have been taken a lot more seriously,” said Jasmyne Cannick, a communications strategist who spearheaded the effort to get justice for Moore.
Although LA prosecutors declined to bring charges after Moore died, another investigation began after Dean died. In July, deputies approached a federal-state task force on opioid overdoses, which agreed to take the case, DEA spokesman Kyle Mori said.
Before Buck could be charged in federal court, investigators learned of the latest overdose survivor and finally made an arrest.
Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez, a former Riverside County prosecutor, said it was unusual for federal prosecutors to take over a state investigation. He said he didn’t buy the LA DA’s statements about a lack of admissible evidence and that her explanation for passing the case to federal prosecutors was “disingenuous.”
Buck has contributed $51,000 to city and county officials, candidates and parties since 2008, new outlets reported.
Buck is being held without bond. If convicted of the federal charges, Buck faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life without parole.
Sources: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Wikipedia, FOX Business