Lawyer for Ed Buck says councilwoman waging ‘character attack’ after OD death of his client’s houseguest

Ed Buck, Hernan Molina and West Hollywood Councilman John Duran attend a candlelight vigil.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

A lawyer for a wealthy Democratic donor who has become the subject of an investigation into a drug death claims that a West Hollywood official has launched a “character attack” on his client and should be investigated for ethics violations.

As Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives continue to investigate the death of Gemmel Moore — a 26-year-old man who died of a methamphetamine overdose on July 27 — an attorney representing political donor Ed Buck said that West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath attacked his client for campaigning against her.

Attorney Seymour Amster, who addressed the City Council on Monday night, said a grand jury should investigate Horvath in the wake of statements she made last month.

At an Aug. 21 council meeting, Horvath asked the L.A. County district attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s Department to “take the necessary steps to make it possible for anyone with information pertinent to this case to safely come forward. I want all facts surrounding this case to be known.”

“I am sad to hear the news of his tragic passing, and I’m deeply disturbed by the accounts in local reports,” Horvath said. “As you have heard, the case involves someone well-known to this community and in LGBT and local political circles.”


The circumstances of Moore’s death have generated controversy since the man’s lifeless body was recovered from Buck’s West Hollywood apartment.

The L.A. County Coroner’s office initially ruled the death an accident caused by the use of methamphetamine. However, detectives opened an investigation after Moore’s family and friends demanded a closer look, citing pages from Moore’s journal that described using drugs with Buck. The district attorney’s office has granted immunity to several young male sex workers who had contact with Buck and are talking to detectives, according to their attorney.

On Monday night, Amster called for a grand jury investigation into Horvath because she failed to reveal that Buck opposed her election and campaigned against her. The attorney said an investigation is needed to “determine if she has been involved in instigating, promoting or financing the character attack on Mr. Buck.”

“Mr. Buck hasn’t been accused of anything. Mr. Buck has no complaint filed against him,” Amster insisted.

Amster, who represented the infamous Grim Sleeper serial killer, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., in his death penalty conviction, has called Moore’s death a tragedy, and said Buck opened “his home to an individual who was troubled.” He said allegations that Buck had any role in the death are unsubstantiated.

Horvath did not respond to Amster’s accusations Monday night, but suggested that Moore’s death still weighed on the community.

“Gemmel Moore was 26 years old at the time of his passing — 26 years old,” Horvath said. “By all accounts, he was a thoughtful, caring and giving person. … I hope Gemmel Moore’s family and friends find the justice they are seeking for Gemmel.”

Twitter: @lacrimes