The wealthy political activist Ed Buck, 66, has been found guilty of all nine felony charges relating to the deaths of men in his home.
Buck’s arrest came following the deaths of two individuals. Gemmel Moore, 26, was found dead of an overdose in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment in 2017. Then, 18 months later, Timothy Dean, 55, also died over an overdose while in Buck’s home.
Moore had left a diary in which he said Buck, who is gay, had a fetish for injecting him with meth and had got him addicted. As police investigated the deaths, other men came forward to say that they too had been injected by Buck and had overdosed but survived.
The families of the dead men and other campaigners called for Buck’s arrest, questioning why a wealthy white man was not being held accountable following the deaths of two black men in his residence. They believed racial bias and Buck’s political donations were a factor in him not being charged.
Buck was finally arrested in September 2019, after another near-death overdose of a man who had been visiting him. Fortunately, that individual was able to escape and alert authorities to what happened.
During his trial, prosecutors said Buck, who had donated around $500,000 to mostly Democratic campaigns and causes since 2000, collected video clips of himself engaged in sexual activities with other men. The prosecution said that of 2,400 videos, more than 1,500 contained drug use.
This included videos of Buck injecting Moore with methamphetamine over Moore’s objections. Another shows Moore passed out as Buck plays with his penis for the camera.
“Buck’s preference was to personally inject victims, and he pressured or incentivized victims to let him do so, sometimes offering large cash bonuses to coerce a victim to agree to an injection or additional injections,” prosecutors charge in court filings.
“Other times, Buck simply injected victims while they were unconscious.”
Buck had denied the charges, with his defense saying the men who died were drug addicts and both were at Buck’s apartment of their own free will.
The prosecution painted a very different picture, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Bailey, during her closing arguments on Friday, telling the jury, “[Buck] would find desolate, vulnerable victims and push meth on them over and over… until they went unconscious.
“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.”
The jury deliberated for four hours after a two-week trial.
“I know this has been an arduous, lengthy and difficult process,” US district judge Christine A Snyder said to jurors as she read the verdict, reports LA Times.
Buck was found guilty of two counts of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death, four counts of distribution of methamphetamine, one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises, and two counts of enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution.
Buck’s attorneys did not comment after the verdict announcement.
A sentencing date is yet to be set. Buck faces life in jail.