Ed Buck pleaded not guilty today to an updated indictment charging him with multiple felonies, including giving drugs to Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old Black man who overdosed and died at Buck’s West Hollywood apartment after being enticed across state lines for prostitution.
A bail reconsideration hearing was set for Sept. 25, at which time defense attorneys are expected to argue that Buck should be released to await trial due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently moving through jails and prisons. Buck, 66, has offered to put up a $400,000 signature bond and submit to electronic monitoring and home confinement, court papers show.
Prosecutors allege that Buck has a history of injecting young Black men with drugs and paying them for sexual activity and emphasized in a court filing that a previous judge’s ruling denied pretrial release on grounds of danger to the community. Buck, who is white, is known for his financial support for Democratic Party candidates on the county, state and national levels. He also was a donor to the election campaigns of all current members of the West Hollywood City Council, with the exception of Mayor Lindsey Horvath. He also was an unsuccessful candidate for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.
Buck was an influential member of the Stonewall Democrats, which eventually diverted some of the money Buck had contributed to other causes. As an animal rights activist, he was an important figure in the election of City Councilmember John D’Amico in 2011, when D’Amico promised to push for a ban on fur sales.
Buck is scheduled to go to trial in Los Angeles federal court on nine counts next year. He also faces state charges of running a drug den, but the federal case will proceed first.
Buck was arrested last year after being charged in federal court with providing methamphetamine to Gemmel Moore, who died after receiving the drug intravenously. Since then, federal authorities continued to investigate the defendant for additional crimes.
Buck now faces additional charges, including a count alleging that he enticed Moore to travel to the Los Angeles area to engage in prostitution. Buck allegedly provided meth to Moore, who overdosed on the drug and died on July 27, 2017.
Buck also is charged with a second count for allegedly enticing a man to travel with the intent of engaging in prostitution. He is also accused of knowingly and intentionally distributing meth, and of using his apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as meth, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
Trial is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Federal prosecutors allege that Buck “engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs that Buck provided and perform sexual acts at Buck’s apartment,” a practice described as “party and play,” according to court papers.
Buck allegedly solicited victims on social media platforms, including the gay sex hookup site Adam4Adam, and used a recruiter to scout and proposition men. Once the men were at his apartment, Buck allegedly prepared syringes containing meth, sometimes personally injecting the victims with or without their consent, according to the indictment.
Buck also allegedly injected victims with more narcotics than they expected and sometimes injected victims while they were unconscious. Another victim, Timothy Dean, also suffered a fatal overdose in Buck’s apartment, on Jan. 7, 2019, the indictment alleges.
Each of the charges alleging the distribution of narcotics resulting in death carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in federal prison and possible maximum of life without parole.
Buck also faces charges, including operating a drug house, that were filed last year by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.