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Feds add more charges against Ed Buck, including drug distribution and enticing prostitution

Ed Buck at a 2019 court appearance
Ed Buck at a 2019 court appearance. On Tuesday, a grand jury returned additional charges against Buck.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Ed Buck, who was indicted last year in connection with the overdose deaths of two Black men in his West Hollywood apartment, now faces four additional charges for allegedly distributing drugs over nearly a decade and enticing two people to travel to California for prostitution.

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment Tuesday, expanding upon allegations that Buck, a once prominent Democratic Party donor, provided the drugs that led to the 2017 overdose of Gemmel Moore and the 2019 overdose of Timothy Dean.

Buck, 65, now faces a total of nine counts in federal court. He also faces additional charges in state court in connection with similar allegations of running a drug den.

His defense attorney, Christopher Darden, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

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The new indictment alleges that from 2011 to 2019 — a far longer period than was previously alleged by federal prosecutors — Buck used his apartment on Laurel Avenue in West Hollywood to distribute methamphetamine, clonazepam and the party drug GHB, gamma hydroxybutyric acid.

Buck was previously accused of providing the drugs that led to Moore’s overdose death, but the new indictment also accuses him of enticing and inducing Moore to travel across state lines to Los Angeles to engage in prostitution on July 17, 2017.

After Moore’s death — which drew headlines and outrage among community members — Buck is accused of enticing a second person, on Sept. 22, 2018, to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution, according to the new charges. Federal prosecutors allege that Buck provided methamphetamine to that person, who is identified in court papers only by initials.

The new indictment largely repeats the allegations returned by a grand jury last year: that Buck “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that [he] provided” and perform sex acts at his West Hollywood apartment. Authorities allege he solicited victims on social media, including the gay dating platform Adam4Adam, and relied on a so-called recruiter to scout and proposition men on his behalf.

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At his apartment, Buck is accused of injecting victims with syringes containing methamphetamine — with or without their consent — and also providing them with more narcotics than they expected to ingest, according to court documents. Sometimes, the documents said, Buck provided drugs to victims who were unconscious.

The death of Moore, 26, was initially deemed an accident, but activists and his family members pressed authorities to investigate further. A journal found among Moore’s possessions singles out Buck for his addiction to drugs, saying Buck “gave me my first injection of [crystal] meth.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department revisited the case. Detectives presented the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office with four possible charges in connection with Moore’s fatal overdose: murder, voluntary manslaughter, furnishing and possessing drugs. Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey declined to file a case, citing insufficient evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In January 2019, the 55-year-old Dean died of a methamphetamine overdose, also in Buck’s apartment. At least 15 minutes passed before anyone dialed 911 to summon help, and his death revived outrage about Moore’s case and the absence of criminal charges against Buck.

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Moore’s mother, Latisha Nixon, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court against Buck, and also named Lacey and the county of Los Angeles, accusing them of failing to prosecute Buck because he is white and his alleged victims were Black. Earlier this year, Lacey was dropped from the case, and U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney dismissed the county from the case in March.

Buck remains in federal custody without bond. His trial is scheduled to begin in January 2021.


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