Democratic political donor Ed Buck was convicted Tuesday of two drug overdose deaths and injecting men with methamphetamine in exchange for sex, in what prosecutors said was a pattern of luring Black men into his Los Angeles area apartment as part of a sexual fetish.
Buck, who contributed more than $500,000 to Democratic groups since 2000, was convicted on nine federal charges, including two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, in connection to the July 2017 death of Gemmel Moore and the January 2019 death of Timothy Dean.
The verdict came after jurors deliberated for more than four hours following a two-week trial in Los Angeles County. Federal prosecutors accused Buck of giving methamphetamine to Black men in his West Hollywood apartment, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.
“He would find desolate, vulnerable victims and push meth on them over and over … until they went unconscious,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Bailey alleged in her closing argument, Fox-owned station, KTTV-TV reported. “That’s what he liked about it – the power gave him sexual gratification. … Every time he stuck a needle in someone’s arm, he was playing God. And he never stopped – not even after two men died.”
In this Sept. 19, 2019, file photo, Ed Buck appears in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Prosecutors alleged Buck, 66, operated a drug den in his West Hollywood home, where he administered methamphetamine to men against their will during sexual encounters. They said he exploited vulnerable men who he had come to his home.
Many were drug users who worked as prostitutes to support their habit. Defense lawyers said neither fatal overdose victim died from methamphetamine and that many of the alleged victims were drug addicts and died from other medical conditions.
One of Buck’s attorneys, Ludlow Creary II, said his client engaged in sex sessions that involved drugs with men he met online but could not be held responsible for the deaths of the two men.
“This is a subculture, a lifestyle that may be shocking to some of us,” he said during his closing argument. “Everyone involved was there voluntarily.”
Ed Buck makes a campaign appearance for Meg Whitman, not shown, then a Republican candidate for governor of California, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
After Moore died on Buck’s apartment floor, activists pressured prosecutors to act. It took months for charges to be brought against him, roughly nine months after Dean, 55, died. Then-Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges in the two deaths.
He was arrested initially on state charges in September 2019 after a third man, Dane Brown, told investigators he was taken to a hospital after being injected with methamphetamine by Buck. He said he met Buck on a gay dating and escort site and had moved in with him for part of the summer of 2019.
Family members of the victims and critics of law enforcement said Buck had escaped criminal prosecutors for years because of his wealth and lavish social circles.
“This man did some terrible things to human beings,” Joann Campbell, one of Dean’s sisters, said after the verdict.
Buck faces a minimum of 20 years in prison for each of the charges for the distribution of drugs resulting in death. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.