A federal court judge today denied a request by Ed Buck’s attorneys that their client be released on bail until his trial, which is scheduled for Jan. 19.
The attorneys argued that Buck should be released from the downtown federal lockup due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently moving through jails and prisons. Buck, 66, had offered to put up a $400,000 signature bond and submit to electronic monitoring and home confinement. He has been in jail since his arrest on Sept. 17, 2019, on charges of operating a drug house and giving methamphetamine to a 37-year-old man who overdosed at his apartment at 1234 N Laurel Ave. Buck subsequently has been charged with multiple other felonies, including giving drugs to Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old Black man who overdosed and died at Buck’s West Hollywood apartment after being enticed across state lines for prostitution.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Rozella A. Oliver found that the proposed bond conditions were insufficient to ensure Buck’s presence at trial, given the incentives to flee. She also determined that Buck would pose a danger to the community if allowed to leave jail before his trial in January.
As for the threat of COVID-19, the judge said defense attorneys did not show that the Metropolitan Detention Center was unable to handle Buck’s medical needs, and that he didn’t have any medical conditions that put him at elevated risk for the virus, beyond his age.
Federal prosecutors allege Buck has a history of injecting young Black men with drugs and paying them for sexual activity and emphasized in a court filing that a previous judge’s ruling denying pretrial release on grounds of danger to the community was correct.
Buck is scheduled to go to trial in Los Angeles federal court in January on nine counts. He also faces state charges of running a drug den, but the federal case will proceed first. Buck is known as a financial contributor to the campaigns of local, state, and national Democratic Party candidates and for his success in getting City Councilmember John D’Amico elected and successfully advocating for a ban on fur sales in West Hollywood.
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 young Black men on social media platforms, including the gay sex hookup site Adam4Adam, 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, according to the indictment.
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.