The criminal case against activist and Democratic donor Ed Buck expanded Wednesday, with a federal grand jury indicting him in connection with the overdose deaths of two men inside his West Hollywood apartment.
Buck, 65, had been previously charged with providing the methamphetamine that caused the overdose death of Gemmel Moore, 26, inside Buck’s apartment on July 27, 2017. But Wednesday’s grand jury indictment also charged him with the same offense for the Jan. 7 death of 55-year-old Timothy Dean, who also died of an overdose in Buck’s apartment.
The indictment also accused Buck of distributing meth to three other men — in May and December of last year and in September of this year.
The two charges of providing drugs resulting in death each carry a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. The three counts of distributing methamphetamine each carry a possible sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Buck also faces state charges of running a drug den in his apartment at 1234 N. Laurel Ave., but the federal case will be handled first.
The deaths of Moore and Dean were both ruled accidental by the coroner’s office. Despite outcry from Moore’s family and community activists, Buck was never arrested or charged in connection with the deaths.
“I just wanted to thank everyone who played a part in getting this indictment, especially the feds for taking this case,” said Joann Campbell, Timothy Dean’s sister. “My family is overjoyed with the news today. We all are crying, but with joy. A special thank you to Jasmyne and her team. Thank you for fighting for Tim and being our eyes and ears always. Special thanks to Detective Rodriguez for his continued fight and hard work on this case. We know it was difficult dealing with us pressing you the detectives to work harder. We appreciate their hard work. And to Ed Buck, you will never hurt and cause harm to another family. We are truly grateful!”
Campbell was referring to Jasmyne Cannick, who has led the campaign to have Buck investigated since Gemmel Moore’s death. Cannick also reacted to the grand jury decision, saying: “Finally! It’s been two-plus long years of fighting for justice for my community–the Black LGBTQ community. It’s been two years of hearing we would never see this day. This is a collective win for all Black people. Our lives matter–even those lives who are the most vulnerable among us. Even the lives of survival sex workers, the homeless and those on drugs. Let this be a warning to all of the other Ed Buck’s creeping around West Hollywood, Los Angeles County and throughout America–we’re coming for you too.”
Buck was not taken into custody until Sept. 17, when he was charged by the District Attorney’s Office over a near-fatal overdose in his apartment that occurred Sept. 11. Buck allegedly injected a man with “two dangerously large doses” of methamphetamine at the West Hollywood apartment. He allegedly administered a “dangerously large dose of methamphetamine” to the same man one week earlier, according to a bail memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes.
Buck allegedly refused to render aid to the man, who eventually fled from the apartment and called 911 from a nearby gas station, according to the document. The 37-year-old man suffered an overdose but survived, authorities said. His escape from Buck’s apartment led to Buck being charged in Superior Court with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house.
He was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $4 million bail on the state charges, but he was transferred to federal custody when he was initially charged in connection with Moore’s death, and ordered to remain jailed without bail.
The latest indictment contends Buck “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” a pattern described as “party and play.” It alleges that Buck solicited victims on social media and also used a recruiter to scout and proposition men.
“Buck exerted power over his victims, often targeting vulnerable individuals who were destitute, homeless and/or struggled with drug addiction, in order to exploit the relative wealth and power imbalance between them,” according to the indictment.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client — who allegedly was present when the fatal overdoses occurred in his apartment — had any involvement in either death.
Buck, a former Republican who first made headlines in the 1980s when he spearheaded a recall drive against Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, has been a frequent donor to Democratic candidates and officeholders. He has also been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council. Buck was instrumental in the election of West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico to the City Council in 2011, with D’Amico agreeing to push for a ban on fur sales that Buck had lobbied for. All members of the West Hollywood City Council, with the exception of Lindsey Horvath, have received campaign donations from Buck and have declined requests to redirect them to the Justice4Gemmel fund, which has raised money to support efforts by Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, to have Buck prosecuted.