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Criminal Justice

Prominent Democratic Fundraiser Ed Buck Guilty In Overdose Deaths Of Two Men

Ed Buck, in a short-sleeved denim shirt, gestures with his right arm as a man in a black turtleneck leans in to talk to him
Ed Buck (C) interrupts California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign event on September 22, 2010.
(Kevork Djansezian
/
Getty Images)
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Prominent Democratic Party fundraiser and gay rights activist Ed Buck was found guilty today in connection with the deaths of two men at his West Hollywood apartment.

Buck, 66, was found guilty on nine federal counts, including providing methamphetamine to two men who overdosed in his apartment on different occasions — Gemmel Moore, 26, who died in July 2017, and Timothy Dean, 55, who died in January 2019.

Buck was arrested in 2019 following an investigation that found at least eight other alleged victims who described in salacious detail his apparent fetish to pay men —some of them homeless — to use highly addictive methamphetamine and have sex, which often took a dark turn and led to several suspected overdoses.

On some occasions, someone refused to inject drugs and Buck plunged the needle in himself, Agent John Mundell of the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2019 affidavit laying out the criminal complaint against Buck.

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Cory McLean, wearing a blue t-shirt and knee-length short, stands in front of a bank of microphones, surrounded by other people at a press conference at a courthouse plaza.
Gemmel Moore’s longtime friend, Cory McLean (R), spoke at a press conference outside U.S. District Court in downtown L.A. on Tuesday after prominent Democratic fundraiser Ed Buck was found guilty of causing Moore's overdose death. McClean says he moved to L.A. from New York to advocate for justice for his friend.
(Robert Garrova
/
LAist)

In addition to being found guilty of causing the overdose deaths of Moore and Dean, Buck was also convicted of luring men across state lines for prostitution, and of distributing methamphetamine. Each count of providing the drugs that led to the deaths brings a minimum of 20 years in prison.

After the verdict was read, a group of about a dozen family, friends and supporters of Moore and Dean gathered for a press conference outside the federal courthouse . There were cheers as prosecutors came dow the steps to offer comments on the case.

Supporters of the verdict spoke emotionally about fighting for justice for Moore and Dean and deep frustration that reaching this outcome took so much effort on their behalf.

“It’s been a long fight for the last four years, taking everyone down as far as the sheriffs, the district attorney and to bring justice to this case,” said Cory McClean, a longtime friend of Moore’s who said he moved to L.A. from New York in order to advocate for his friend.

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In court filings, local prosecutors called Buck "a violent, dangerous sexual predator" who targets "men made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness."

After Gemmel Moore was found dead at Buck's apartment in 2017, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department opened a homicide investigation, but Moore's death was later ruled an accident by the county coroner and former District Attorney Jackie Lacey declined to file charges against Buck.

Buck came under suspicion again after Dean overdosed. African American activists had been frustrated that Lacey refused to file charges against Buck, who is white, after Moore's death. In February 2019 community organizers delivered 30,000 signatures to Lacey, demanding an investigation into Buck.

He was arrested in September 2019, several days after he was alleged to have injected meth into a 37-year-old man at Buck's apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue. The man suffered an overdose but survived, officials said.

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Robert Garrova is reporting on the intersection of mental health and law enforcement.