Watch CBS News

Ed Buck sentenced to 30 years in prison for West Hollywood drug overdose deaths

Former prominent political donor Ed Buck sentenced to 30 years in prison for West Hollywood drug ove 02:57

Former prominent political donor Ed Buck was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison for providing the drugs that killed two men in his West Hollywood apartment.

Ed Buck, who was found guilty last year of nine felony counts, faced between 20 years and life in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prosecutors accused Buck of running a drug den out of his apartment.

Buck, 67, lured young Black men who were often experiencing homelessness, addiction, and poverty to his apartment for sexually charged sessions in which he would inject them with methamphetamine and drug them with sedatives, with and without their consent, federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

"This defendant preyed upon vulnerable victims -- men who were drug-dependent and often without homes -- to feed an obsession that led to death and misery," U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkinson said in a statement. "Mr. Buck continues to pose a clear danger to society, as evidenced by him continuing to lure men to his apartment, even after he killed two men with lethal methamphetamine injections."

The two victims, Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, died of methamphetamine overdoses 18 months apart -- Moore in July 2017 and Dean in January 2019.

After less than a day of deliberations on July 27, 2021 -- the four-year anniversary of Moore's death -- a federal jury found Buck guilty of all charged counts.

Buck solicited his victims in various ways, including using social media platforms, dating and escort websites, or via referrals from prior victims, including individuals he hired to do other work for him, offering a finder's fee for referrals, evidence showed.

Buck -- who has donated more than $500,000 to mostly Democratic causes and served in 2016 as one of California's Electoral College members -- was convicted of two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death.

That charge carries a 20-year mandatory minimum.

He was also found guilty of enticing Moore and another man to travel to L.A. to engage in prostitution; knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine; and using his West Hollywood apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.

Over the course of the two-week trial, federal prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses, including four men who told of smoking methamphetamine that Buck provided and then being pressured to allow the defendant to inject them with the drug.

An acquittal motion argued that the only evidence that Buck distributed methamphetamine and other drugs at his apartment was bolstered by "the testimony of a parade of financially motivated houseless individuals" and drug addicts and should not have been believed, defense attorneys said.

Buck also faces separate L.A. County charges of running a drug den, but the federal case proceeded first. Buck was first arrested in September of 2019 on those separate charges brought by the L.A. County District Attorney's Office of injecting a 37-year-old man with a large dose of meth, as well as running a drug house out of his condo.

At the time, then L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey explained that local authorities determined that there was not enough evidence under state law to charge Buck in the deaths of Dean and Moore. However, under federal law, they had more legal options. He was indicted in October of 2019 by a federal grand jury in the deaths of Dean and Moore.

Nearly 10 family members and friends of the victims gave impact statements to the court, asking Snyder to impose the maximum.

"All I can think about is how my son died -- naked, on a mattress, with no love around him," said a sobbing LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Moore.

Dean's sister, Joann Campbell, said outside court that she was not satisfied with the 30-year sentence handed to Buck.

"I was hoping for more time for this man," she said, conceding that "no amount of time will bring back my brother."

As for Buck's apology, Campbell said it was "too little, too late," and makes no difference.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.